A year ago, UW dipped into the transfer portal to find its starting running back in Virginia’s Wayne Taulapapa.
That worked out pretty well.
After Taulapapa compiled 1,112 total yards, 6.3 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns in 13 games, the Huskies appear to be following the same formula — albeit with a new name.
UW announced the addition of former Mississippi State running back Dillon Johnson Thursday, after also adding Arizona State’s Daniyel Ngata earlier this offseason. The 6-foot, 215-pound junior — who was also pursued by Ole Miss and South Carolina — has two seasons of remaining eligibility.
In all, UW added seven transfers from four-year schools this offseason — Johnson, Ngata, Oklahoma State cornerback Jabbar Muhammad, Michigan State wide receiver Germie Bernard, Cal Poly tight end Josh Cuevas, USC linebacker Ralen Goforth and Sioux Falls edge Zach Durfee. (A junior college transfer, Long Beach Community College corner Thaddeus Dixon, enrolled this winter as well.)
And like Ngata, Johnson can win in myriad ways. In three seasons at Mississippi State, he compiled 1,198 rushing yards, 5.2 yards per carry and 11 scores, plus 149 catches for 864 yards and a receiving touchdown. That included 488 rushing yards, 5.5 yards per carry and three touchdowns, plus 48 catches and 285 receiving yards in 10 games this fall.
“He’s dynamic in every way,” UW coach Kalen DeBoer said of Johnson on Pac-12 Network Wednesday. “He’s dynamic as a football player. He’s a dynamic personality. You can just tell it’s going to be a lot of fun. He hasn’t been on campus yet full time, as far as going to school. But that will happen here this spring, so he’ll be around for spring ball.
“I’m just excited about what he’ll bring. I feel like he’ll always catch the ball, and his personality and his ability to be physical [helps], and when he has to stay in for pass protection he’ll do a great job there. So well-rounded as a football player. He’s a home run hitter that I feel like can be a piece to make our program and our offense even better than it was a year ago. He adds to a group that’s got some good depth.”
Speaking of, running back reps will not be easily awarded at Washington. Junior Cameron Davis — who amassed 659 total yards with 4.9 yards per carry and a team-best 13 touchdowns in 11 games last fall — also returns, as does senior Richard Newton and sophomores Sam Adams III, Will Nixon and Aaron Dumas. UW added three-star freshman Tybo Rogers in December as well.
But Johnson — who will enroll for the spring quarter — may immediately be Washington’s most proven option.
He’s not Taulapapa.
He may be better.
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