Patience isn’t a characteristic you’d normally associate with an 18-year-old, but it’s generally the first word used to describe Washington’s newest football phenom Myles Gaskin, who has suddenly emerged as the second-leading true freshman running back in FBS.
Patience isn’t a characteristic you’d normally associate with an 18-year-old, but it’s generally the first word used to describe Washington’s newest football phenom, Myles Gaskin.
“The thing that makes him special as a running back is his vision and his patience,” Huskies running-backs coach Keith Bhonapha told reporters Tuesday. “(He) really uses the line to set up his blocks.”
Bhonapha believes Gaskin has that “it” factor — a unique quality that makes him special and sets him apart from the rest.
Still at the start of fall camp when Gaskin was buried on the depth chart behind four returners, not many envisioned the former O’Dea High standout would be the second-leading true freshman running back in FBS.
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“I hoped and prayed about it,” Gaskin said. “I’m just thankful for how it’s been going and excited for what’s to come.”
During his first extensive interview since joining the Huskies, Gaskin came across as thoughtful, poised and humble for someone so young.
He shared stories about learning football and idolizing his older brother Ivan, 21, during backyard games while growing up in Lynnwood.
“When I was little, I wanted to run like him,” said Gaskin, one of two siblings.
When asked who among his Husky teammates has hit him the hardest in practice, the elusive runner chuckled and said: “No one.”
He wears the No. 9 because 6 — the number he wore in high school — was taken by senior Deontae Cooper. His favorite UW running back is former Husky star Chris Polk, and he is partial to playing in cold rainy weather due to his Northwest upbringing.
Here are few other tidbits.
On how he describes himself: “Chill,” Gaskin said. “I like to go home and hang out with my mom and dad. Talk to my family and all of that good stuff.”
On the toughest part of transitioning to college: “It was just different trying to get adjusted to school.”
On his running style: “I like to read the leverage of the blocks. If you can read the leverage of the blocks you only have to work off the safety or the corner and that’s when guys become my size and it’s easier. (I) try to make them overcommit, try to make them overrun me and cut (inside) that.”
And the 5-foot-9, 192-pounder had this to say about his size: “I guess I’m small. But I don’t really think so.”
With hardly any advance warning, the little freshman tailback has become the biggest weapon in UW’s otherwise pedestrian offense that ranks last in the Pac-12, averaging 334.1 yards per game.
Gaskin is seventh in the conference with 606 rushing yards and tied for third in the conference with six rushing touchdowns. He’s averaging 6.2 yards per carry and 13.9 attempts per game.
“We definitely need to get him the ball,” coach Chris Petersen said Monday. “He’s proven that he’s making plays for us, without question.”
After gaining just 5 yards on five carries in the opener, Gaskin exploded for 146 yards and three touchdowns the following week during a 49-0 win over Sacramento State.
He shared running-back duties with junior Dwayne Washington early in the season, but in the past three games Gaskin has carried the offense while running for more than 100 yards in each contest.
It’s the first time in Husky history a true freshman has compiled consecutive 100-yard rushing performances.
Gaskin tallied 134 rushing yards at USC. He had a personal-best 155 against Oregon, including a 72-yard touchdown scamper. And last week, he totaled 108, highlighted by a collision in which he ran over a Cardinal defensive back in the open field.
“I saw him coming from a distance and I was going to make a cut off of him and I just couldn’t,” Gaskin said. “I just put my shoulder into it and that’s what came out of it. I was trying to run for a touchdown and he was in the way.”
But mostly, Gaskin avoids the big collisions. He prefers to “hide” behind his offensive line, scan for an opening and dart into the open field.
“It’s been working,” he said smiling. “So I’m going to keep on going with that.”
|Myles Gaskin, game by game|
|Boise State||L, 16-13||5 carries, 5 yards|
|Sacramento State||W, 49-0||14 carries, 146 yards, 3 TDs|
|Utah State||W, 31-17||15 carries, 42 yards|
|California||L, 30-24||5 carries, 16 yards|
|USC||W, 17-12||22 carries, 134 yards, 1 TD|
|Oregon||L, 26-20||18 carries, 155 yards, 1 TD|
|Stanford||L, 31-14||18 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD|