Two practices into the Chris Petersen era with the Huskies, and the Shaq is already out of the bag.
Linebacker Shaq Thompson was also making plays on offense during this morning’s workout at the Dempsey Indoor facility — as a running back. He is #7 above working among the backs, including quarterback Jeff Lindquist (#5 in gold).
"He’s a monster, man," cornerback Marcus Peters said after seeing the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Thompson on the other side of the ball.
The cameo on offense came three days after Petersen said Thompson may get some time on offense this year. UW’s new coach was leading Boise State in 2011 and remembers well that Thompson ran for 1,134 yards and 15 touchdowns with another 893 yards passing and eight scores that fall as a senior at Grant High School in Sacramento, Calif.
The honorable mention All-Pac-12 pick in each of his first two seasons at UW also played baseball for a summer and one, short spring at the low Class-A level of the Boston Red Sox organization. Last season he looked like a wide receiver while blazing 80 yards with an interception for a touchdown at Oregon State.
"Shaq was a heck of a running back in high school, so we’ll see," Petersen said, smiling, "but he’s a pretty good linebacker, too."
The Huskies have at running back seniors Jesse Callier (back at practice today after he missed Tuesday’s first spring workout for what Petersen said was an academic issue) and Deontae Cooper. Both have come back from knee reconstructions. Dwayne Washington, a former wide receiver, is another returning rusher trying to replace departed record setter Bishop Sankey.
In August, 2014 recruit Jomon Dotson from Napa County, Calif., arrives. So does Budda Baker, a safety and MaxPreps All-America from the Seattle suburb of Bellevue. Baker was all-state in Washington at both defensive back and all-purpose runner on offense last fall.
Peters, the only returning starter in Washington’s young secondary for 2014, is already pumped over Thompson perhaps being in the Huskies’ offensive backfield for part of this coming season.
"It’s going to be real unique seeing him run the ball," Peters said. "Everyone talks about Myles Jack (another dynamic linebacker, also from Bellevue High, who scored four rushing touchdowns for UCLA against UW last season) running the ball. But Shaq Thompson can really run that ball."
Christian Caple of the Tacoma News-Tribune shot this video of Thompson going through a running-back drill.
As Petersen had mentioned as a possibility on Monday, wide receiver John Ross lined up some at defensive back this morning. Ross played DB in Washington’s final three games of 2013, mainly against inside, slot receivers.
"We might have some guys doing double duty," Petersen said. "We’ll just see how that goes down the road. John Ross has played a little bit of defense. We have to maximize our talent.
"I do think it’s fun for the kids, too, when they all of a sudden get to play the other side of the ball. They did it in high school, but they don’t do it now. They usually executive that stuff really well because they don’t want to mess it up, and there’s a new level of intensity trying to figure it out.
"We’ve just had decent success over the years using some guys in certain packages."