Replacing Chris Polk may not be a one-man job

Apr 4, 2012, 4:52 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2012, 9:53 am
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By Brady Henderson

When Steve Sarkisian came to Washington before the 2009 season, he figured he would bring with him the running back-by-committee approach that worked so well at USC.

Chris Polk changed his mind.

“Chris, fortunately for us, stepped up and kind of just grabbed that role,” Sarkisian told “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday, a day after Washington kicked off spring practice.

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Junior running back Jesse Callier will have a bigger role after backing up Chris Polk the last two seasons. (AP)

“We had some different running backs leave the program, get injured and whatnot, and Chris kind of stepped up and took the ball and said, ‘I’m gonna carry it 25 times a game.’ And that’s how it was for three years.”

Polk is now gone, heading to the NFL after topping 1,100 yards in each of the last three seasons to finish second on the school’s all-time rushing list. Replacing that production won’t necessarily be a one-man job, as Washington has a trio of running backs that gives Sarkisian the option of a backfield timeshare.

Here’s a look at the three.

Jesse Callier: Serving as Polk’s backup last season, Callier rushed for 260 yards on 47 carries. His lone touchdown came against Colorado, when he had 81 yards on just 10 carries. He has been one of the Huskies’ main kick returners since debuting as a true freshman in 2010. Sarkisian called Callier “a very versatile guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield, who can run, [a] very good return guy, probably a little bigger than most people think when you see him in person.” Callier is listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds.

Bishop Sankey: Most of the 28 attempts Sankey had last season as a true freshman came in garbage time. He finished with 187 rushing yards, good for an average of 6.7 yards per carry. His most significant action came against Colorado, when he had 71 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Thirty-three of those 71 yards came on one carry. Sarkisian called the 5-foot-10, 193-pound Sankey “a very explosive back.”

Antavius Sims: While Sims played quarterback in junior college, Sarkisian noted that he was just as much of a running back. At Ventura (Calif.) College in 2010, Sims ran for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns on 223 carries. Sims, a member of Washington’s 2011 recruiting class, enrolled in January and is participating in spring practice. Sarkisian: “He’s put on about 18 pounds since he’s been here, if you can believe that, and he looks great.” Sims is listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds.

“If one of those guys can be it [a featured back] we’d be fired up about it,” Sarkisian said. “If it’s going to take all three of them I think that will work for us as well.”

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Replacing Chris Polk may not be a one-man job