When the Washington Huskies’ season ended, the most asked questions about Chris Polk’s NFL future were where he would play and if he would be a second- or third-round draft pick.
But from his final carry in the Alamo Bowl to Day 3 of the 2012 draft, one of the best running backs in Huskies history saw his value plummet to nothing.
By Saturday afternoon, the draft had wrapped up, 22 running backs had been selected and Polk’s name had not been called.
Instead, Polk signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.
It was a stunning development for the Huskies’ second-leading career rusher.
“I will just have to go out there and show them I have a lot of great football left in me,” Polk told NFLDraftScout.com. “I know teams are concerned about my shoulder, but I also heard somebody say something about a degenerative hip and there is just no truth to that. I had labrum surgery on the shoulder a year ago and it didn’t slow me down last season.”
Washington Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian had no explanation for the slight.
“I really don’t know,” he said after the Huskies’ spring game. “I’ve been out here the whole day, but I just assumed he would get taken. We will try to dig and find out.”
He also shook off any concerns over injuries.
“Some of those reports were news to me, I’ve never heard that stuff,” Sarkisian said.
Polk suffered a dislocated left shoulder two games into his freshman year and needed season-ending surgery. He had surgery on the same shoulder after the 2009 season after tearing the labrum while blocking. A few weeks before the 2011 season, Polk had surgery to repair a torn meniscus. But he didn’t miss any games and rushed for 1,488 yards and 12 touchdowns.
While Polk didn’t hear his name called, two Huskies players were drafted.
Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu went in the fourth round (109th overall) to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and offensive tackle Senio Kelemete was taken in the fifth round (151st) by the Arizona Cardinals.
Ta’amu had been projected as high as a late first-round pick initially but figured to go as a second- or third-round pick.
“He’s a nose tackle that we feel can get penetration,” Steelers defensive line coach Jim Mitchell said.
Ta’amu knows what to do at that position.
“Clogging up the middle and not letting anything through there,” he said in a conference call.
Kelemete will return to Seattle each season if he sticks with the Cardinals.
“I was excited,” he said. “I’m really blessed to be picked by a great team, the Arizona Cardinals. It just felt really good to finally get my name called.”
Cardinals offensive line coach and Hall of Fame linemen Russ Grimm sees Kelemete moving to guard in the NFL.
“Obviously, the kid played left tackle for Washington and did a nice job with them,” Grimm said. “We’re projecting him in at a guard position. We’ll start him at a guard, but it’s nice to know that he’s a guy that you can move out to tackle if you have to, because he’s played the position in college.”
Kelemete isn’t picky. He will just do what is asked.
“I could see myself playing left guard or left tackle,” he said. “Either or, it doesn’t matter. I just want to be out there and help contribute to the team. Wherever the coaches need me to go, wherever they need to put me in, I’ll play. I think my strengths are my attitude, being really aggressive, and bringing the best out of the guys around me.”
Like Polk, Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse never heard his name. The Lakes High School graduate signed a free-agent deal with the Seahawks after the draft.
Record-setting Boise State quarterback and Prosser High grad Kellen Moore was not selected Saturday either. He signed with Detroit.
The Steelers drafted Oregon tight end and Auburn Riverside graduate David Paulson in the seventh round. He’ll join a crowded tight end group that includes Heath Miller, Weslye Saunders and Leonard Pope.
St. Louis took Puyallup’s Aaron Brown out of Hawaii in the seventh round. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound outside linebacker had 103 tackles his senior season.
Eastern Washington safety and Tumwater graduate Matt Johnson was selected with the final pick in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Owner Jerry Jones broke the news with a phone call.
“He said, ‘We want you to be a Cowboy,’ ” said Johnson, 22. “It’s a lot of crazy emotions. I don’t know what to say. It’s a dream come true.”Staff writer Meg Wochnick and The Associated Press contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports Twitter: @RyanDivish