With Lavon Coleman moving on to the pros, Salvon Ahmed will get his chance to shine in 2018.
Last season, the Washington Football team had a three-headed monster in its backfield. Junior back Myles Gaskin was the engine of the Huskies’ offense, and fellow ball-carrier Lavon Coleman was the workhorse tasked with spelling Gaskin. But freshman running back Salvon Ahmed was the wild card of the backfield. The newcomer carried the ball 61 times for 338 yards in 2017, and he also caught 13 balls for 71 yards.
While these numbers were not prolific on paper, Ahmed was lightning in a bottle whenever he touched the ball in 2017.
Ahmed, entering his sophomore season, is sure to see a higher share of touches, and his explosiveness on the outside should make him the perfect compliment to the tough inside running of Gaskin.
He will step into Coleman’s role from last year, and be the featured back in relief of Gaskin. But more importantly, he will get more opportunities to show off his skills in the UW offense, and be more than just a gadget player.
There’s no denying that Ahmed is fast. Really fast.
Coming out of high school, Ahmed was the No.2 prospect in the state of Washington, per the ESPN300 rankings. He ran a 4.32 40-yard dash, best in the class of 2017, and recorded a 35.7-inch vertical jump.
And last season, he used his speed to blaze past opposing defenders. The two best displays of his abilities came in games against Oregon and Washington State. Ahmed carried six times for a season-high 84 yards against the Ducks, including a 58-yard dash to the end zone, evading three defenders on his way to pay dirt. In the Apple Cup, he rushed for 82 yards, including a 27-yarder that got the ball down to the 1-yard line.
Having run a 4.43 40 this offseason, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Though Salvon Ahmed is listed as a running back, he is far from a one-dimensional player. And that’s exactly what Chris Peterson was looking for when he recruited him. Unlike a Gaskin or a Coleman, the coaching staff saw Ahmed as a Swiss Army knife-type player. This was music to Ahmed’s ears.
“They said they can see me almost anywhere– receiver, running back, defensive back– so they just said they want to get me into the program and then they’d figure out different ways to use me,” Ahmed told Dawgman.com last year. “Honestly, I really don’t care where I play, I just want to play, so I like it that they can see me in different roles.”
Last season, Ahmed lined up all over the field, taking most of his handoffs on reverses as opposed to behind the quarterback. This allowed Ahmed to get a running start and get to top speed faster. And once he got to top gear, there was no catching him. However, he may see a bit more time in the traditional RB role given his upgraded position on the depth chart.
He also returned 15 kickoffs last season. His best two came against UCLA, when he had an 82-yard return early in the second quarter, and added a 40-yard runback in the fourth quarter.
With Gaskin leaving after next season, Ahmed may have to prepare for becoming the workhorse in time. It remains to be seen exactly how much of the load Ahmed is given with Gaskin entering his senior year. But he will first see time as the primary backup.
Coleman scored seven total touchdowns last season, four on the ground and three through the air. However, he only carried the ball 89 times and caught 13 passes. Relatively low numbers, but ones that make sense given the running back in front of him on the depth chart.
Ahmed will probably get a similar number of touches as Coleman did, with more emphasis on being a receiver. He’ll have to prove that he can do the most with the carries and targets he gets, considering the crop of other running backs and new receivers.
Regardless, Ahmed will be up to the task. The fact that he recorded only 26 offensive yards in last season’s Fiesta Bowl may add some fuel to the fire. But Ahmed has been set up nicely to become Washington Football’s next great running back, and the prospect of that should excite fans everywhere.