No position has been in more flux for the University of Washington football team than running back — and that was even before Kalen DeBoer took over as coach.
The new Husky staff brought in portal transfers from Nebraska, New Mexico and Virginia to increase numbers and increase competition. Coaches are patiently waiting for three holdover players to return to good health after knee or shoulder injuries. And they’ve steadily thinned out a once-heavy contingent of Texas power runners.
With freshman Wayne Taulapapa named the starter for the first game against Kent State in the seven-man tournament — and all signs point to him — the Huskies will open with five different starters during their run over the last five games. the season
Ahead of him, graduate maid Pleasant started against Washington State; Now sophomore Cam Davis opened at Colorado; Cade Otton slipped into the running back spot for the first game against Arizona State and graduate Sean McGrew took the first field against Oregon.
The 5-foot-11, 207-pounder from Honolulu, Taulapapa, Virginia, through the Atlantic Coast Conference, brings with him 27 starts, and he and former Cornhusker Will Nixon of Waco, Texas, have taken the most snaps since fall camp. started
On Saturday, DeBoer singled out the two when asked about the ongoing position battle.
“Wayne and Will both played some really good games,” the Huskies coach said after the team’s second scrimmage. “They did what they had to do. They were really consistent, broke some tackles. Wayne showed some physicality when we needed it.”
Asked if the leaders will be the No. 1 tailback this season, DeBoer said, “Wayne for sure; Will is right there in the hunt.”
Nixon comes to the Huskies after spending two seasons as a wide receiver at Nebraska, and has returned to running back, which he played as a high school senior.
“He doesn’t shy away from being physical and getting the hard yards,” DeBoer said.
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Rejoining the mix free of injury, redshirt freshman Sam Adams II and sophomore Cam Davis fit into the next tier of candidates.
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Many Harold Adams, son of a former Seahawks defensive lineman and grandson of an NFL offensive lineman, both named Sam Adams, recently surprised his coaches with the full range of his abilities.
“He was probably a little more slippery than I thought,” DeBoer said. “He’s consistently catching the ball, strong all around.”
New Mexico transfer Aaron Dumas and redshirt freshman Jay’Veon will likely come after Sunday because they aren’t perfect fits for the spread offense used. Neither has much of a background as a receiver out of the backfield.
Asked about those two, DeBoer said, “They’re rotating. When you have a lot of guys, it’s hard to give everybody a ton of reps..”
Finally, there’s Richard Newton, a junior who started three games last season before suffering a season-ending injury against UCLA. He is in uniform, but he has not yet been cleared to practice without restrictions.
“He’s doing everything he can, he’s done nothing,” DeBoer said. “He’s getting back into it. It just takes time. … I can’t wait for him to get back out there because I know he made a lot of plays for us.”
Check out the attached photo gallery for a more detailed breakdown on each of the seven nominees.
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