''Monster'' Shaq … Linebacker Tries Offense
By Gregg BellUW Director of Writing
SEATTLE -- Two practices into the Chris Petersen era with the Huskies, and the Shaq is already out of the bag.
Linebacker Shaq Thompson was also making plays on offense during Thursday morning's workout at the Dempsey Indoor facility -- as a running back. He was the only white, defense jersey among the purple-shirted backs during position drills.
"He's a monster, man," cornerback Marcus Peters said after seeing the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Thompson on the other side of the ball.
The cameo on offense came three days after Petersen said Thompson may get some time on offense this year. UW's new coach was leading Boise State in 2011 and remembers well that Thompson ran for 1,134 yards and 15 touchdowns with another 893 yards passing and eight scores that fall as a senior at Grant High School in Sacramento, Calif.
The honorable mention All-Pac-12 pick in each of his first two seasons at UW also played baseball for a summer and one, short spring at the low Class-A level of the Boston Red Sox organization. Last season he looked like a wide receiver while blazing 80 yards with an interception for a touchdown at Oregon State.
"Shaq was a heck of a running back in high school, so we’ll see," Petersen said, smiling, "but he's a pretty good linebacker, too.”
The Huskies have at running back seniors Jesse Callier (back at practice Thursday after he missed Tuesday's first spring workout for what Petersen said was an academic issue) and Deontae Cooper. Both have come back from knee reconstructions. Dwayne Washington, a former wide receiver, is another returning rusher trying to replace departed record setter Bishop Sankey. And don't sleep on redshirt-freshman Lavon Coleman.
In August, 2014 recruit Jomon Dotson from Napa County, Calif., arrives. So does Budda Baker, a safety and MaxPreps All-America from the Seattle suburb of Bellevue. Baker was all-state in Washington at both defensive back and all-purpose runner on offense last fall.
Peters, the only returning starter in Washington's young secondary for 2014, is already pumped over Thompson perhaps being in the Huskies' offensive backfield for part of this coming season.
"It's going to be real unique seeing him run the ball," Peters said. "Everyone talks about Myles Jack (another dynamic linebacker, also from Bellevue High, who scored four rushing touchdowns for UCLA against UW last season) running the ball. But Shaq Thompson can really run that ball."
As Petersen had also mentioned was possible on Monday, wide receiver John Ross lined up at defensive back during Thursday’s practice. Ross played DB in Washington’s final three games of 2013, mainly against inside, slot receivers.
“We might have some guys doing some double duty,” Petersen said. “We’ll just see how that goes down the road. John Ross has played a little bit of defense. We have to maximize our talent, if he can do some things there.
“I do think it's fun for the kids, too, when they all of a sudden get to play the other side of the ball. They did it in high school, but they don't do it now. They usually execute that stuff really well because they don't want to mess it up, and there's a new level of intensity trying to figure it out. We've just had decent success over the years using some guys in certain packages."
KENNEDY, LEWIS ON BALLOT FOR COLLEGE HALL OF FAME
Lincoln Kennedy, a 1992 All-American offensive tackle who helped pave the way to the Huskies’ 1991 national title, and Greg Lewis, Washington’s All-America running back and Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1990 are on the 2014 ballot announced Thursday for election into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The National Football Foundation will announce the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame class in May. Inductees will be permanently enshrined in the new Hall of Fame in 2015. The new Hall is scheduled to open in Atlanta prior to the start of this coming season.
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a first team All-American by a major, national selector, as recognized and utilized by the NCAA. Nominees must have played their last year of college football at least 10 years ago and played within the last 50 years. They cannot currently be playing professional football.
INSIDE THE DAWGS: The Huskies practice again on Saturday morning. They have three more morning practices next week before taking two weeks off for winter-quarter finals and UW’s spring break. … Jeff Lindquist looked sharp Thursday while again splitting time with the only other quarterback in spring practice, Troy Williams. Lindquist threw particularly well while on the move. The best throw of the day was when the redshirt sophomore rolled left, flipped his shoulders then threw a 50-yard strike that plopped perfectly over the outside shoulder of Ross, hitting the wide receiver in stride down the sideline. The offense cheered that pass and catch. … Thursday’s mid-practice, offense-versus-defense strength competition from new strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha (pronounced SO-ha): Lining up two wheeled carts with weights on the bottom at the goal line side by side. An offensive and a defensive player each pushed one cart to the 30-yard line, then tapped out to a teammate to push it the 30 yards back. The defense won that, resulting in sprints for the offense. At the end of the practice, the offense reveled in the defense having to run sprints for losing the turnover battle. … After those final sprints and to close each of the first two practices, Petersen has gathered the players in a semicircle around him as assistants have commanded “Concentrate!” Then the players have had to take a knee in unison and clap once together. It’s a test of mental and physical discipline while fatigued.