Young Runners Providing A Glimpse At The Future
Oct. 24, 2008
by Jeff Bechthold
The phrase 'running back by committee' has become a cliché infootball. Its overuse has lessened its meaning.
This season's Washington football team, however, can use that phraseat its most accurate.
All six members of that group are in either their first or second seasonat the UW. The list includes a true sophomore (Johnson), two redshirtfreshmen (Griffin and Yakaboski) and three true freshmen (Polk, Freemanand Dailey).
What's more is that four different players have started at tailback inthe Huskies' first six games (Polk, Freeman, Griffin and Dailey, in thatorder). That foursome is made up of a redshirt freshmen and three truefreshmen.
When Chris Polk started the UW opener at Oregon on Aug. 30, it wasbelieved that he was the first true freshman to start a season-opener attailback in modern Husky history. In only six games' time, he's becomeone of just three true freshmen to start at the position this season.Injuries (including likely season-enders to Polk and Yakaboski andother, more minor, injuries to others) have conspired to force this largenumber of young players into action.
So, what's the good news to you, the Husky fan?
The good news is that every one of these six has shown at least aglimpse of true talent in their limited time. Each of them, even in verylimited duty, has displayed a reason to believe that they can contributesignificantly to the Huskies' offensive attack during this and comingseasons.
Anyone who has watched the UW game in and game out (dating backto last season in the case of Johnson) would conclude that the Huskies'future at the position is truly bright, if not slightly crowded.
The most recent of this kennel of young Husky pups in the backfieldto make his mark is Dailey, a true freshman from Vacaville, Calif., a cityof about 100,000 on Interstate 80, halfway between San Francisco andSacramento.
Dailey submitted what might be the Huskies' offensive performanceof the year last Saturday vs. Oregon State. After having made his collegedebut (coming off the bench) only one game prior at Arizona, Daileyearned his first college start against the Beavers.
In rushing for 102 yards on 16 carries (including an electrifying59-yard sprint to the end zone), Dailey joined an elite club of Dawgswho have rushed for 100 or more yards in their first Husky start.That group includes Louis Rankin (the last Husky to do it, in the 2005season-opener vs. Air Force), Corey Dillon (1996 vs. Stanford), LeonNeal (1995 vs. BYU) and Napoleon Kaufman (1992 vs. Arizona State)in the modern era.
What's more is that none of those players, great as they were,accomplished this feat as a true freshman, as Dailey did.
Think about it: the Husky tailbacks corps is comprised of sixplayers and five of the six have at least three seasons remaining atthe UW. Similar arguments could be made about the similarly youngand talented groups at both wide receiver and defensive line.
In spite of the rough times this season at Montlake, these youngDawgs, and the clear talent that they're displaying, are a significantreason for hope for the future.