As we inch ever closer to fall camp kicking off, I started thinking long and hard about who I was most excited to see on the field. I decided to break down into three categories; returning players who have already seen the field, freshmen who sat out last year, and incoming freshmen. You’d think this would be easy, right? It wasn’t.
There are so many players that I’m curious to see in live action this fall – here are a few who I’m curious about, but didn’t choose:
- Cyler Miles – no explanation needed.
- Deontae Cooper – can he finally regain the form that made him such a big time recruit and take over the starting RB role?
- Marcus Peters – Will he live up to the off-season hype?
- Danny Shelton – Will he emerge as the dominant force he’s been projected as for years?
While those four are certainly intriguing, they aren’t the two that I am most excited to see in 2014. That honor belongs to John Ross and Shaq Thompson
I’ll start with Shaq. He came in three years ago as one of the biggest, if not THE biggest recruiting win for Steve Sarkisian. He was an all world safety and running back in high school and had his choice of colleges; like he actually could have gone anywhere he wanted, and he chose Washington (ahem, Tosh Lupoi’s late arrival to UW in 2011 had NOTHING to do with it, I’m sure). He has started from day one here, and hasn’t disappointed. He’s been a vocal and physical leader and has helped turn the UW Linebacking corps from a glaring weakness into one of the most talented units in the conference. As excited as I am to see him fly around on defense, the really interesting part is the idea of Shaq lining up in the backfield on offense.
Much was made last year about Myles Jack at UCLA playing both ways and being a dominant force in the backfield. We all remember him running the ball down UW’s throat in Pasadena for four touchdowns in what seemed like ten seconds. He is big, strong and fast. Guess what? Shaq is bigger, stronger and faster. Shaq is a better overall athlete and more explosive with the ball in his hands. There’s a reason Sark always talked about putting Shaq on special teams to return kicks – he’s a special athlete, and I really believe we’ve only seen a sliver of what he can do on the field. By putting the ball in his hands, I think Shaq is going to turn into a bonafide superstar.
Along with Shaq Thompson, John Ross is someone else that I am dying to see play some football. We heard last year, before a down of football was played, that Ross was the fastest player on the team. We got a glimpse of his freakiness against Idaho State, and then again against BYU. The rumors were true – it wasn’t light speed, it was ludicrous speed.
The Dawgs haven’t had a player with that kind of athleticism and speed since…when? Locker? Not close. Paul Arnold? Maybe, but he never lived up to the potential because of the back injuries. Ja’Warren Hooker? Speed yes, but football skills…not so much. How far back do we have to go? Napoleon Kaufman? Further? I don’t know – but what I do know is having that kind of ability line up at WR across from Jaydon Mickens and Kasen Williams is pretty special. How talented is Ross? He played WR, DB and returned kicks in a single game last year, as a true freshman. Now, he has a full year of experience and an off-season of training and working out with trainers on campus. I am sure Chris Petersen has spent a significant amount of time figuring out ways in which to get John Ross the ball in space and let him go to work. If he hasn’t, he probably should.
What returning player are you most anxious to see? Tweet your answer to @huskyhaul or @psomerstein.
Bow down and go Dawgs.