The 5-foot-7, 175-pound running back out of Southern California power St. John Bosco — and the California Gatorade player of the year — intends to join the Huskies in March and said watching Myles Gaskin reminds him of himself.
Curious about his future teammate, Sean McGrew clicked on the highlight compilation of Myles Gaskin’s best runs at O’Dea High School and was stunned at what he saw.
“This guy,” McGrew recalled thinking to himself last summer, “is like the exact same player as me.”
In style and in stature, the surface-level comparisons between Gaskin, the Huskies’ prized (if undersized) running-back recruit last year, and McGrew, their prized (if undersized) running-back recruit this year, are obvious.
And if McGrew is right — if he is the same type of player as Gaskin — then the Huskies will have an awfully good problem on their hands for the next few years.
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McGrew, considered the West Coast’s top running-back prospect for the Class of 2016, is excited about the possibilities for UW’s emerging offense. After committing to UW last spring, McGrew watched the Huskies closely this fall, impressed by the development of Gaskin, quarterback Jake Browning and slot receiver Chico McClatcher, all true freshmen.
It was, he said, easy for him to envision himself on the field with them.
“We have so much talent up there right now,” said McGrew, who rushed for 5,742 yards and 76 touchdowns in three seasons for Southern California power St. John Bosco High. “With Chico, Myles and me, we’ve got three really quick, fast guys, and coaches are going to find a way to get us all on the field at the same time.”
Because of his size, the 5-foot-7, 175-pound McGrew said he had many doubters early in his high-school career. Could he hold up as an every-down back for one of the nation’s top programs in one of California’s toughest leagues?
Even he wasn’t so sure as a sophomore.
“I remember thinking that everyone was humongous,” he said. “But once I started playing a little bit, I realized I could do it. It didn’t hurt that bad (to get tackled), and I was faster than everyone on the field. That gave me confidence. I’m a small guy … but I just feel like my speed and how low I am to ground gives me so much extra strength that other running backs don’t have.”
Bosco coach Jason Negro remembers the moment he realized what he had in McGrew. It was the third game of the 2013 season, a showcase game against Chandler, Ariz., and Bosco trailed 28-17 at halftime. It was McGrew’s 88-yard touchdown run that sparked Bosco’s big second-half comeback en route to a 52-31 victory.
“It was like he just shot out of a cannon,” Negro said of that long run along the Bosco sideline. “To see a sophomore with that kind of speed, it was pretty remarkable.”
Sharing the backfield with future UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, McGrew rushed for 2,076 yards to help Bosco go 16-0 and win a state championship in 2013. Last spring, McGrew finished second in the 100-meter dash at the state track championships — clocking a wind-aided 10.56 seconds — and as a senior this fall he scored 32 total touchdowns to earn California Gatorade player of the year honors.
“People up there are going to be shocked,” Negro said. “When you see him, he’s so unassuming, like ‘Oh my gosh, how can this kid be a running back at St. John Bosco?’ Sure enough, he’s able to come out week after week; he’s durable, physical; he can finish runs — all those things you want out of a great back.”
McGrew said he’s on track to graduate high school early and his plan is to enroll at UW in March and participate in spring practices. Gaskin established himself as UW’s featured back with his record-setting freshman season, but Dwayne Washington’s early departure for the NFL draft opens the door for McGrew to potentially earn carries as a backup running back next fall. He said he’s also comfortable playing slot receiver and returning punts and kicks.
“For them to go 7-6 with one of the youngest teams in college football, and have the No. 1 defense in Pac-12, it is really surprising,” McGrew said. “You just look at the team and how young we are, I’m just excited to be part of it and grow with the rest of the team.”
• Levi Onwuzurike, a four-star defensive end from Allen, Texas, announced his commitment to the Huskies on Wednesday afternoon. He is the 14th public commitment to the Huskies for this class. Scout.com ranks the 6-foot-3, 248-pound Onwuzurike as its 101st prospect in the nation. Onwuzurike was named the Dallas area’s defensive player of the year by The Dallas Morning News after posting 53 tackles and 8.5 sacks while helping powerhouse Allen to a 14-1 record in 2015. He chose UW over Michigan, Baylor and Arizona State.