Huskies have plenty of running back depth behind Bishop Sankey
Juniors Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier have returned from serious knee injuries and will be ready to play Saturday when the Huskies open the season against Boise State.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Washington running back Bishop Sankey rushed 30 times for 205 yards against Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas just eight months ago, and he figures to again carry the UW offense in the rematch with the 19th-ranked Broncos at Husky Stadium on Saturday night.
But when Sankey needs a breather, the Huskies are confident in the depth behind him. Even if that depth is largely untested.
Redshirt freshman Dwayne Washington figures to see his first action for the Huskies against Boise State, and juniors Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier remain on track to play Saturday in their comebacks from major knee injuries.
“I feel good about those four guys,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Wednesday.
Cooper is, without question, the feel-good story of training camp for the Huskies. When he finally gets the chance to run — yes, run — out of the Husky Stadium tunnel on game day, Cooper promises to look good when, for the first time, he puts on his complete UW uniform.
He planned to have his three-inch-tall Mohawk trimmed Wednesday afternoon. By Saturday night, he plans be in his No. 32 jersey with three armbands covering each of his arms and tights covering his legs.
“It’s going to be all color coordinated,” Cooper said, smiling. “‘Pops always told me, ‘You look good, you play good.’ ”
Washington teammates, coaches and fans would like nothing more than to see Cooper play as well as he looks in the season opener. Cooper said he is “over the hump” after three anterior cruciate ligament tears in his knees derailed his once-promising career.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve never been this far in camp,” he said. “That’s a great feeling.”
Sarkisian said he will be “calculated” in how and when he calls on Cooper for the first time, “so that he’s comfortable within the game. I want to see him be successful, like all our guys. …
“I think there’s moments for ‘Coop’ when he feels great (in practice), and there’s other moments there’s a little bit of hesitation. That’s understandable for me.”
Meanwhile, Callier, the starting tailback entering 2012, said he feels healthier — and even faster — than before he tore his ACL in the season opener last year. He could see his first action Saturday as part of the kickoff coverage team.
“I love kickoffs,” Callier said. “I always compare kickoffs to the movie ‘Lord of the Rings.’ That’s one of my favorite movies. It’s just like going to war with the orcs and the Trojan, or whatever, and they’re all going as one. That’s how I picture it. I just love it.”
Fullback on fire
Redshirt freshman fullback Psalm Wooching will make his UW debut. On a different stage last Saturday, he made quite the first impression on many UW fans.
Wooching, from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, performed a Samoan fire dance for the crowd at the “Raise the Woof” fundraising event on campus. He even swallowed fire as part of the performance.
“My dad, ever since I was a kid, really embraced the Samoan culture,” Wooching said. “He kind of taught me (the performance) since I was a kid, maybe 6 years old, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
It was the first time he had performed the dance in about a year, and Wooching admitted he burned his right hand between his thumb and forefinger. But he doesn’t expect the burn to affect him Saturday.
In UW’s new up-tempo scheme, the 6-foot-3, 219-pound Wooching said he will be used as a lead blocker, a runner and a receiver out of the backfield, in addition to special-teams work.
“I’m not just a big fullback,” he said. “I have moves, too.”
• Sarkisian declined when asked about an update on star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who broke his pinkie earlier this month. “I’m done talking about injuries,” Sarkisian said.
• Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren chatted with Sarkisian on the sideline before practice Wednesday morning.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @a_jude.