Sean McGrew’s coach hopes the redshirt freshman running back might look a little different than most others who regularly knock heads with oncoming tacklers.
And that, Chris Petersen says, is not because he’s 5-foot-7.
“He doesn’t stand out at all to me because of his size. He stands out to me because he’s got tremendous vision,” Petersen said of the Huskies’ redshirt freshman running back.
“He’s got elite feet. He doesn’t cross his feet over. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s vision and being able to play with a base. You won’t see him slip much, and it’s really special when you watch him. He’s different than most. That’s why he ran for all those yards in California.”
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All those yards: 2,076 as a sophomore at St. John Bosco High School, then 1,814 as a junior, then 1,852 during a senior season that culminated with state Gatorade Player of the Year honors. McGrew finished his high-school career with a yards-per-rush average of 9.1 and 76 touchdowns. His highlight video plays for four minutes before you see him get tackled.
The Torrance, California, native has flashed some of that ability this spring as he vies for carries in a deep, experienced backfield. Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman combined to rush for 2,225 yards last season, and both will return in 2017. Jomon Dotson, the team’s third-string back last year, figured he might see the field more at a different position, and is now playing cornerback.
And with Coleman absent so far as he tends to an academic matter, McGrew and fellow redshirt freshman Kamari Pleasant are getting a chance to prove why they could factor into the rotation, too.
It can be difficult to evaluate running backs during the spring, because there is little full contact or live tackling. But McGrew and Pleasant each seem to see the field well, McGrew to the extent that Petersen raved about his vision, a rare occurrence for the buttoned-up coach.
Also, Gaskin said, “a lot of people don’t know how tough he is. He’s a great runner. He can run in between the tackles as a smaller guy. He’s ready to do whatever he has to do. If he has to pick up a linebacker, he’ll do it, because he’s just a tough kid, tough guy, and he’s a patient runner. He is good, but once he gets his shot, he’s going to shock some people.”
So far this spring, junior quarterback Jake Browning has mostly rested his right shoulder as he recovers from offseason surgery. Monday was a little different. Browning still sat out of 11-on-11 periods, but he did participate in a few passing drills — including a 7-on-7 period in which he completed an accurate 45-yard toss to receiver Chico McClatcher up the right sideline.
“I think he’s throwing it pretty well,” UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said. “He could probably go out and take some team reps at this point, but we’re not rushing anything. He threw it pretty good today in 7-on, routes on air and 1-on-1s. The ball’s looking good coming off his hand.”