Myles Gaskin was one of the nation's most productive running backs late last season, and capped his freshman year with an MVP performance in the Huskies' bowl game.
The anticipation for this Washington football season is as robust as its been since Marques Tuiasosopo’s senior season in 2000. As the Huskies get closer to kicking off fall camp on Aug. 8 — less than four weeks before the Sept. 3 opener vs. Rutgers — we continue our annual primer on each position. Today: Running backs.
Projected depth chart:
Myles Gaskin, so., 5-10, 193
Lavon Coleman, jr., 5-11, 220
Jomon Dotson, so., 5-10, 175
Sean McGrew, fr., 5-7, 173
Kamari Pleasant, fr., 6-0, 195
Ralph Kinne, jr., 5-10, 216*
Gavin McDaniel, so., 5-8, 188*
Logan Hurst, rs-fr., 5-10, 186*
2015 review: As a true freshman, all Myles Gaskin did was emerge late last season as one of the most productive running backs in the nation, earning MVP honors for UW’s offense and freshman All-America recognition. Pro Football Focus rated Gaskin as the nation’s second-best running back (behind Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey) over the final five weeks of the season, as he closed out the year with four consecutive 100-yard games — including an MVP performance (181 yards, four TDs) in UW’s bowl-game blowout of Southern Miss. He finished the season with 1,302 yards and 14 TDs, both UW freshman records. Overall, it’s interesting to note that the Huskies ran the ball 51 percent of the time in 2015 — a dramatic dropoff from 2014, when they led the league in running the ball at 60 percent of the time. Several reasons for that: trust in the QB, O-line struggles/injuries, trailing late. But that near 50-50 split also falls closer in line to the balance UW coaches would like to have in their “multiple” offense.
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2016 outlook: The Pac-12 North has two of the nation’s most talented backs in McCaffrey and Oregon’s Royce Freeman; it’s not out of the question to think Gaskin will soon play his way into their elite company. For a back his size (he’s generously listed at 5-10), he’s able to hide behind the O-line and patiently wait for blocks to develop. Add that to his outstanding vision and good burst, and he’s just about the complete package. Like classmate Jake Browning, Gaskin has a chance to put together one of the more productive careers in UW history, if he stays healthy. It should be fun to see how those two grow together over the next few years.
Worth watching this season is Gaskin’s workload. The good news in that regard is the Huskies’ soft nonconference schedule (Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State, all at home) should give Lavon Coleman and Jomon Dotson and others — likely true freshman Sean McGrew, and perhaps even true freshman Kamari Pleasant — prime opportunities to prove themselves. The Huskies will miss the big-play ability of Dwayne Washington (who left early for the NFL, and was selected in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions). But Dotson still has untapped potential, and McGrew was one of the West Coast’s most decorated prep running backs last season, earning California Gatorade player of the year honors while playing for powerhouse St. John Bosco. Though undersized, McGrew carries himself with a determined confidence and he expects to play immediately. Figure UW coaches will try to get him the ball a handful of times a game, perhaps in similar fashion as they did with slot receiver Chico McClatcher last year; they need to use all the playmakers they have if this offense is to make a serious leap into contention.