The Huskies have one special package for Baker on offense that could debut vs. Rutgers.

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Two years ago, star linebacker Shaq Thompson spent a month as Washington’s starting running back en route to being named to the The Associated Press’ All-America first-team as an all-purpose player.

Could Budda Baker be UW’s next two-way star?


Baker, a first-team all-Pac-12 safety last year, has taken a handful of snaps on offense over the past two seasons but has never appeared in a game on offense. The Huskies have one special package designed for Baker, and UW coach Chris Petersen said Monday there’s a “chance” Baker could make his offensive debut in Saturday’s season opener against Rutgers (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network).

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“Not trying to be coy on that,” Petersen said. “We’ve worked Budda on some stuff (on offense), and we’ll see if the package calls for it. But Budda was quite a playmaker with the ball in his hands in high school. We’ll see if he can translate that.”

Baker is also in the mix to return kickoffs this season, along with John Ross III, Austin Joyner and Chico McClatcher. Baker had one kick return last season, for 40 yards, against Sacramento State.

>>> Five freshmen in the mix

Three true freshmen are listed on UW’s first depth chart released Monday morning: right guard Nick Harris, wide receiver Aaron Fuller and safety Taylor Rapp.

Petersen said two other true freshmen are expected to contribute: strong-side linebacker Amandre Williams and inside linebacker Brandon Wellington.

There are a “couple” of other true freshmen, Petersen said, who could wind up playing this season, but he didn’t specify which ones.

>>> Gold, it is

After the mixup with the Huskies’ helmets earlier this month, Petersen said he wasn’t sure if the team would continue to use multiple helmet colors, as it has the past handful of years.

For this week, at least, Petersen said the Huskies would wear their traditional gold helmets.

After that?

“After that — we really haven’t gotten any further than that, to tell you the truth,” he said.

UW was one of two teams that started fall camp wearing a new helmet from the Seattle start-up Vicis, which is attempting to create the safest helmet on the market. The Huskies wore the Vicis helmets for about a week and a half before the company recalled them, citing issues with comfort and fit.

NOTE: Two wide receivers will wear new uniform numbers this season: McClatcher will now wear No. 6 and Connor Griffin will wear No. 83.