By Brent Stecker
The Titans’ backfield will have a whole lot of Washington Huskies flavor in 2014.
Tennessee made former Husky Bishop Sankey the first running back to be taken in the 2014 draft, selecting him with the 54th overall pick in the second round Friday. He will join former Huskies quarterback Jake Locker, who was a Titans’ first-round selection in 2011.
Sankey will have an opportunity to make a big impression from the get-go, as the Titans cut their top running back, Chris Johnson, earlier this offseason.
The Titans, who also have Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster to compete for their No. 1 running back spot, aren’t looking to compare Sankey to former 2,000-yard man Johnson, though.
“Their skill set is not the same, so when you see them on the field, it’s not going to look anything like Chris and he’ll make his own mark,” Tennessee general manager Ruston Webster said of Sankey. “I think this guy is solid and will handle that really well.”
The 5-foot-9, 209-pound Sankey is coming off an outstanding junior year at Washington in which he broke the school records for rushing yards in a season (1,870) and rushing touchdowns in a career (37). He was a second-team All-American and one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s best running back.
He finished his career in Montlake with 95 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to earn offensive MVP honors in UW’s Fight Hunger Bowl win over BYU.
“Really what he brings to us is a great deal of versatility, vision, feet, ability to catch the football, which is what we’re looking for,” Webster said.
Sankey’s selection has historical significance, as 54 picks is the latest an NFL Draft has reached before the first running back was selected.
Sankey was the second Huskies player to be selected in the second round. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was taken 16 picks earlier by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.