Sep 15, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies running back Bishop Sankey (25) carries the ball against the Portland State Vikings during the game at CenturyLink Field. Washington defeated Portland State 52-13. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Huskies Football: Can Sankey Be The Best Ever?

Aug 31, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies running back Bishop Sankey (25) carries the ball against the Boise State Broncos during the game at Husky Stadium. Washington defeated Boise State 38-6. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

As we appear to go through the rebirth of competitive Husky Football, we also may be witnessing the emergence of the greatest Washington Huskies Running Back of all time. Bold? Absolutely. Ridiculous? No way.

Bishop Sankey was an afterthought at the start of the 2012 season. He was a sophomore sitting behind Jesse Callier, who had waited patiently behind Chris Polk for his chance to be the starting tailback. In the first game of 2012, Callier got his chance; however, in an incredibly cruel twist of fate, Caller didn’t even make it through the first offensive series of the game before he tore his ACL. Enter Bishop Sankey.

After being bottled up in his first collegiate start against LSU (eight carries, 16 yards) Bishop Sankey went nuts. I don’t even know how else to describe it. All told, Sankey rushed for 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns on 289 carries. To put that in perspective, look at what the top two statistical running backs in UW history, Chris Polk and Napoleon Kaufman, did in their second year in the program (Polk redshirted, Sankey and Kaufman did not):

Napoleon Kaufman, 1992; 162 carries, 1045 yards, 6 TD, 6.5 YPC

Chris Polk, 2009: 226 carries, 1113 yards, 5 TD, 4.9 YPC

Pretty impressive stuff, especially considering all of the trouble the Huskies had with their offensive line last year.

Through the first two games of 2013, Sankey has done nothing to make us think that he isn’t on the path to UW lore – he’s merely averaged 184.5 yards a game. At this rate, he’s on pace for 2,214 yards. 2,214! I don’t know if he’ll keep up the current pace, and I would bet that Coach Sark wants to limit his workload slightly so he doesn’t get worn down during the year, but really – 2,214? The highest single season rushing total in UW history is 1,695 courtesy of Corey Dillon, and he ran behind an offensive line that featured two All-Americans. Sankey is on pace to blow that number away, even if his production slips a bit.

Sankey’s unassuming deposition as a runner may be what is most impressive. Napoleon Kaufman was a human highlight reel – the jukes and the speed he possessed made him look like a collegiate version of Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. Chris Polk simply willed his way to yards. He ran over and through people, and kept a play going long after it should have been over. Sankey does neither of those things. He’s patient; he lets his blocks develop. He doesn’t panic if a hole isn’t open, or if there are defenders in the backfield. He’ll take a glancing blow, rarely a direct hit, and then find a way to fall forward for two yards. Before you realize it, Bishop Sankey has 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

While much has been made of the reemergence of Keith Price and the tempo of the new offense, the biggest threat the Huskies have wears No. 25. He opens everything else up for this team, and once UW has lead, Sankey can carry the mail and simply wear out opposing defenses.

Bishop Sankey is not the greatest UW running back of all time – yet. What he is doing is carving out a path that may just get him there. For now, sit back and enjoy watching him in purple and gold.  Bow down and go Dawgs.

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