Running a lap around the track in front of extolling football fans never felt so satisfying.
It meant Dezden Petty was getting the lion’s share of practice carries in the University of Washington backfield.
Going on four years, coach Steve Sarkisian has been in search of a reliable short-yardage option. In 2009 it was thought to be Demitrius Bronson, who never materialized in that role and ended up transferring to Eastern Washington.
Then late in 2010, Sarkisian figured he had a real prospect in Zach Fogerson, who saw his career end with recurring concussion issues.
Is Petty the next man up?
“He is kind of growing into that role,” Sarkisian said.
Petty, who was sidelined last week by lower-back spasms, was given a team-high 10 carries Saturday at the team’s controlled scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. He gained 30 yards, including runs of 5 and 12 yards before coughing up the ball on a hard collision with Evan Zeger.
His penalty for the turnover was a lap of shame.
“Paid the consequences,” Petty said.
The overall feeling of Petty’s showing was positive, Sarkisian said.
“We tried to give … extended carries in a row, to see how he responded,” Sarkisian said. “He shows a real knack for playing with good pad level, falling forward and bouncing off tacklers.”
Petty came from Gardena High out of Carson, Calif., last season as a fullback-tailback hybrid. He suffered a leg injury early in fall camp. After falling to the bottom of the depth chart early on, the Huskies decided to redshirt him.
This spring, Bishop Sankey and Jesse Callier have done nothing to lose ground for the top running back spots. But it is evident that Petty – who is down to 212 pounds and has an underrated burst – has joined the fray.
“I came here a little undersized for fullback,” Petty said. “Now they are just trying to develop me as somebody who can get us 3-4 yards when we need it.”
A day after taking a hard hit to the head, receiver James Johnson went through individual drills, but did not participate in the scrimmage. … Starting quarterback Keith Price was 10-for-18 passing for 137 yards, including a 31-yard bullet to Cody Bruns down the left seam for a touchdown. … UW quarterbacks took 10 sacks, and were under heavy duress much of the afternoon. … The offense also committed seven penalties and had two fumbled snaps, which drew the ire of the fourth-year coach. … Sarkisian noted the biggest spring-camp surprises have been cornerback Tre Watson, a transfer from Central Washington; offensive lineman James Atoe; and Petty. … Attendance for the first spring practice open to the public was about 750.
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