For the second time in the past three seasons, Washington Huskies running back Jesse Callier suffered a season-ending injury before Pac-12 play even started.
Callier, a fifth-year senior, ruptured his Achilles tendon on the opening kickoff of the Huskies’ 45-14 victory over Georgia State on Saturday, and will miss the rest of the season, coach Chris Petersen said Monday.
The injury effectively ends Callier’s collegiate career. He also suffered a season-ending injury in the first quarter of Washington’s season opener against San Diego State in 2012, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament after catching a swing pass. Callier entered that season as the Huskies’ starting tailback ahead of eventual record-setting running back Bishop Sankey.
Callier returned from that injury to play in 2013, rushing 48 times for 213 yards and three touchdowns. His most extensive playing time at running back came as a true freshman in 2010, when he took 77 carries for 433 yards. He finishes his UW career with 997 yards rushing on 191 carries, and was also a key contributor on special teams throughout his career.
He is the second Huskies player to suffer a season-ending injury this season. Redshirt freshman cornerback Jermaine Kelly broke his ankle during practice prior to UW’s Sept. 13 game against Illinois.
“That’s a hard one to take, just a guy that’s a senior and some of the things that he’s been through,” Petersen said. “He’s doing such a great job for us. So that’s hard.”
The outlook for sophomore receiver John Ross, who did not play last week while nursing a leg injury, appears to be more positive. Petersen said Ross practiced Monday morning and “seemed OK,” but that he’s not yet ready to declare him ready for Washington’s game Saturday against No. 16 Stanford at Husky Stadium (1:15 p.m., Ch. 13).
“We’ll see. Not willing to stand on the table and say he’s good to go and all that,” Petersen said. “He’s kind of a week-to-week guy. We’ll see.”
Ross is the Huskies’ leading receiver with 224 yards on just six catches. Three of those receptions were touchdowns. Ross is also UW’s starting kick returner and easily the fastest player on the team, meaning his return could be essential to the Huskies’ chances of knocking off Stanford.
QB Jake Browning signs
High-school football players can’t sign binding national letters of intent until February, but they can sign financial-aid agreements if they plan to enroll in college early.
And that’s what four-star quarterback prospect Jake Browning from Folsom, California, has done, signing a financial-aid agreement with UW, which Petersen confirmed Monday.
Browning, who committed to Washington over the summer, plans to enroll in classes at UW in January and participate in the Huskies’ spring practices.
A financial-aid agreement does not bind a player to a school, but does bind a school to a player. Such agreements are becoming increasingly common among power programs looking to secure top recruits earlier and earlier.
Petersen said any prospect trying to enroll early must, above all else, possess an impressive transcript.
“And secondly, it’s maybe us being a little bit proactive,” Petersen said. “If we know a guy that wants to come here, to look at the transcript and say, ‘If you double-up on this class or take an extra class here, an extra core class or something, you can get this done early.’ It may make sense for them to go, ‘Hey, I want to do that’. It’s becoming more and more prevalent out here in the west. That’s just the way I think it’s heading.”
Browning, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound prospect with offers from schools such as Alabama and Oklahoma State, threw seven touchdown passes last week in a win over Burbank and has thrown 27 through Folsom High School’s first four games. He threw for 5,737 yards and 75 touchdowns as a junior in 2013, and threw for 5,248 yards and 63 touchdowns as a sophomore.
“We started looking at him when we were at Boise,” Petersen said, mentioning a longstanding relationship with Folsom’s coach, Troy Taylor. “He came to see us at camp and stuff and we really, really liked him from the start. And a lot of people really liked him. Fortunately we came over here, and he came up here, and really liked what he saw.”