Sports Out West

Washington Huskies: 4 developing spring storylines

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Following a brief hiatus for Spring Break, Washington football practice is back in full swing. Head coach Chris Petersen has now had 10 practices to evaluate his new team, including one in full pads.

The public will get its first look at Petersen’s work at the UW’s spring game on April 19. While that will resemble an open practice more than an actual game, there are a few storylines worth keeping an eye on in the 12 days between now and then. 

The suspensions of Cyler Miles and Damore’ea Stringfellow

The Huskies’ expected starting quarterback and No.3 receiver have both been suspended for the entirety of spring due to an alleged assault of a Seahawks fan following the Super Bowl. A new development finally came Thursday, as the King County Prosecutor’s Office announced it would formally charge Stringfellow with misdemeanor assault. No charges will be filed against Miles.

That could certainly mean trouble for Stringfellow’s future with the Huskies. Meanwhile, Petersen said that Miles could return from suspension before the end of the spring. He should soon be able to begin his quarterback battle with Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams.   

Will Shaq Thompson become a two-way player?

The Pac-12 became plenty familiar with UCLA’s Myles Jack last season, as he won the conference’s offensive and defensive freshman of the year awards. If spring practice is any indication, the UW may attempt to do something similar with Thompson.

Thompson is already a star linebacker, and is now getting a few practice snaps at running back. He has the physical tools to contribute offensively, and ran for 1,134 yards during his senior season at Grant High in Sacramento. Petersen is one of the more creative offensive minds in the nation, and will find a way to get Thompson involved offensively if he thinks it will benefit the team.  

Can Deontae Cooper emerge as the starting running back?

Cooper has one of the more incredible recent stories in college football, recovering from three separate ACL tears to rush for 6.28 yards per carry and three touchdowns on 43 attempts in 2013. He returns for his senior season in 2014 as the Huskies try to find a successor to the brilliant Bishop Sankey.

With an impressive spring, including an 18-yard touchdown run in a padded scrimmage, Cooper has emerged a possibility for the starting running back position come August. Cooper’s speed slowly but surely returned last year, culminating with an 166-yard performance against Oregon State late in the season, and he’s reportedly feeling stronger than ever in spring practice. He has enough talent to challenge Dwayne Washington and Jessie Callier on the depth chart.   

John Ross’ role on the team

Ross has potential to be one of the most electrifying players in the country and seems poised for a breakout in 2014. He showed flashes of his speed and ability to move in space during his freshman season, and should only benefit from Petersen’s offensive creativity for the rest of his college career.

Last year, Ross was primarily used in the slot, but he is getting some work on the outside during the spring. Petersen is also working with Ross one-on-one to try and harness some of his natural ability as a punt returner, and is giving him snaps with the cornerbacks.   

Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.