February 6, 2012

Huskies' recruiting spotlight: running backs

This is the first in a series by UDubNation.com, which will examine the Huskies' 2012 recruiting class by position. First up is the running back spot:

OVERVIEW


The Huskies' attempt to land the Northwest's top running back recruit for the second year in a row came up short.

Washington envisioned four-star tailback KeiVarae Russell in its long-range plans as a possible candidate to replace NFL-bound Chris Polk.

But the Huskies wound up being the second choice for Russell after he picked with Notre Dame instead.

Realistically, Russell, who's from nearby Mukilteo, wouldn't have been the immediate solution to replace star Polk. Nevertheless, they settled for two lesser-known running backs from the 2012 class with one headed for the fullback slot.

Washington signed tailback Erich Wilson from East Palo Alto, Calif., and Psalm Wooching from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Both are big backs who at one time were committed to other schools (Wooching with UCLA; Wilson with Colorado).

Because of where Washington stands at the tailback and fullback spot, these two newcomers would appear to have a solid chance of seeing action next season, particularly Wooching, who could turn into a dynamic fullback.

As it stands now, Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey are the leading candidates to replace Polk at running back.

ABOUT PSALM WOOCHING


Coach Steve Sarkisian lights up when he talks about Wooching, who will bring a dimension the Huskies have lacked.

Wooching is big, rangy back listed at 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds. He can catch the ball out of the backfield well and is a load to bring down.

Sarkisian said a versatile fullback is very important to a UW offense that is looks to branch out more in its playbook.

"He catches the ball very well," Sarkisian said. "He can line up all over the field. He has a very tough mentality about him. Psalm Wooching, I think, will have an instant impact on our offense and be an added dimension we haven't had in a couple of years."

Wooching was the primary back at Kealakehe High School. He first committed to UCLA before a home visit and scholarship offer by Sarkisian late in the recruiting process made him change his mind. The Huskies have been his childhood favorite because his grandparents live in Tacoma, his mom's hometown.

How fast Wooching enters the picture at fullback for the Huskies could depend on the success and health of Dezden Petty, who redshirted his true freshman year with the Huskies last fall.

ABOUT ERICH WILSON


Sarkisian said he was surprised that Wilson wasn't rated higher by recruiting experts.
The three-star running back certainly rates higher in the mind of Sarkisian, who said he's been earmarked by the Huskies for "quite some time" and sees him as a player who could have an immediate impact.
Wilson, who is 6-1, 190 pounds, had a record-setting career at Junipero Serra High School, where he rushed for 3,361 yards and scored 52 touchdowns in his career. The touchdown total broke a school record once held by NFL Hall-of-Famer Lynn Swann.

Wilson had 36 touchdowns in his senior season alone.

GRADING THE BACKS


The Huskies missed their primary in-state target in Russell but did get two players who will help sooner than later. Wooching could add a new wrinkle to the UW's fullback spot and would certainly be an easy drop-off target for Keith Price. Grade: C.

LOOKING FORWARD


Tailback Thomas Tyner of Aloha, Ore., will be one of the Northwest's top 2013 recruits. The Huskies have offered Tyner, but he's already committee to Oregon.

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