Huskies tailbacks take their licks in full pads
The Washington Huskies practiced in full pads Monday for the first time this spring.
No one was happier about that than the running backs; and no running backs were happier than freshman Demitrius Bronson and sophomore Curtis Shaw.
It had been a long wait for both of them.
“It feels good for me because I haven’t been in full pads for a year and a couple of months,” Bronson said. “It feels good to get the pads on again and get a couple of hits under my belt. I think I’ll be sore (today), but it feels good to be playing again.”
Bronson had been recruited as part of the 2008 freshman class after rushing for 3,810 yards at Kentwood High School. However, academic issues delayed his UW enrollment until January. He took part in offseason training with the team and has been getting his share of work with the No. 1 unit so far this spring.
“(The coaches) know I’m a hard worker from the workouts and the 10 weeks we put in,” he said. “I just have to translate it onto the field. They know I’m learning and I’m new and I’m fresh.”
Shaw played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2007. He started the season at tailback where he gained 12 yards on seven carries; then he was shifted to receiver, where he had five catches for 47 yards. He also returned two kicks for 56 yards.
He seemed slated for a bigger contribution last season when undisclosed family issues caused him to return home to Stockton, Calif., and miss the entire season.
He said he always planned to return to the Huskies. And while the new coaches value his versatility, he’s happy they are having him work primarily at tailback.
“I’m more comfortable in the backfield, and I’m looking forward to it,” Shaw said. “I’m coming back prepared, ready to start and help the team. I feel like I’m just about there. I’m still studying the playbook, still trying to get to my max potential. But I’m pretty much there. Just working on little things, polishing up my game.”
Shaw and Bronson are among seven tailbacks on the spring roster, along with Terrance Dailey, David Freeman, Brandon Johnson, Chris Polk and Brandon Yakaboski.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said all of the tailback candidates will get equal chances to show what they can do. Once games begin in the fall, he said he will likely rotate two tailbacks, perhaps along with a couple of specialty backs for short-yardage or passing downs.
“These kids are not afraid,” Sarkisian said. “And although they may not be the biggest in stature, they put their head in there in pass protection, they put their head in there when running the ball. They’re not afraid, and they’re not afraid as a group: There’s not a guy in there that’s timid. I’m proud of them that way. I’m anxious to see (film from Monday) to see if they cleaned up some things in pass protection, but I thought they ran the ball well again.”
The defense won the Monday practice, pulling even with the offense at two practices each. … Chris Izbiki
ran with the first unit, which Sarkisian said was due partly to his playing well and partly due to Izbiki and Kavario Middleton
being his only healthy tight ends. … Receiver D’Andre Goodwin
was held out with a tight hamstring, and tailback Polk sat out while still feeling the effects of a hit on his leg in the Saturday practice. … The Huskies are off today. They’ll return for spring practice No. 5 on Wednesday.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808