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Tag:Washington Huskies
Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 2:53 pm
 

Senior Bowl invites Washington "junior" RB Polk

Lost amid the clutter of the NFL's release that a record 65 underclassmen were granted special eligibility for the 2012 draft was the announcement from the Senior Bowl that ten Pac-12 players were invited to participate in the preeminent senior all-star game in the land.

Among the ten was a surprise -- University of Washington running back Chris Polk, who had been characterized by the Huskies and the NCAA as a whole to this point as a junior.

It had been presumed that Polk, who missed all but the first two games of the 2008 season due to injury, had taken a medical redshirt. As it turns out, Polk did not apply for a redshirt and thus, exhausted his eligibility once the Huskies lost to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
"We made sure that we followed proper protocol before we invited Chris and that entailed getting everything cleared through the NFL and Coach Sarkisian at the University of Washington," Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said.  "Once it was determined that Chris had exhausted his eligibility at Washington there was no question we wanted him on our roster.  He is an excellent player and has a bright future in the National Football League."

Polk was not among the 65 underclassmen granted special eligibility by the NFL for the 2012 draft.

Polk's addition to the Senior Bowl roster is a significant one. Ranked as the No. 4 running back in the 2012 draft class by NFLDraftScout.com, Polk leaves Washington having rushed for 4,049 yards -- the second most in school history behind Napoleon Kaufman, a first round pick by the Raiders in 1995.

Listed by Washington at 5-11, 222 pounds Polk is a surprisingly physical back for his size. Though he lacks elite breakaway speed, his vision, burst and determined running made him the MVP for the Huskies in 2010 over quarterback Jake Locker, drafted No. 8 overall by the Titans in April. Polk finished second behind former Washington running back Corey Dillon for the single-season record with 1,415 rushing yards in 2010. He earned First Team All Pac-12 accolades in 2011 after rushing for even more yardage (1,488), including posting 147 yards and a score against Baylor.

Polk is one of three Washington players to be invited to Mobile for the 2012 Senior Bowl. Joining him will be offensive lineman Senio Kelemete and defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

The remaining seven Pac-12 prospects invited to the Senior Bowl are Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner, Arizona State offensive lineman Garth Gerhart and wide receiver Gerell Robinson, California linebacker Mychal Kendricks and offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz and Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:42 pm
 

Huskies RB Polk entering NFL Draft

Fourth-year junior running back Chris Polk is leaving the University of Washington a year early to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

"Chris had a terrific career at Washington and deserves the opportunity to move on to the next level," Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement. "We wish him nothing but the best in what I'm sure will be a great professional career."

Polk is the No. 4 running back eligible for the 2012 draft and the No. 56 overall prospect, according to NFLDraftScout.com, behind only Alabama's Trent Richardson, Miami's Lamar Miller and David Wilson from Virginia Tech. All are underclassmen, with Miller already declaring his intention to enter the draft. Richardson and Wilson have yet to play their bowl games.

Polk, who has already earned his bachelor's degree in American ethnic studies, leaves as the second all-time leading rusher in Huskies history with 4,049 yards in 40 games. He is behind only Napoleon Kaufman (4,106) on the school's career rushing list. Polk's 799 career carries and average 101.2 rushing yards per game are school records.

Polk is a strong interior runner who has the burst to get through the line and the power to break tackles. He's not a naturally explosive outside runner, and is primarily a North-South runner who has good vision for cutback lanes. Polk lacks true breakaway speed, but has plenty of speed to rip off yards in chunks. He doesn't get caught from behind often.

Coaches will value Polk's willingness and competency as a blocker as well. Like most college backs, he has to work on his technique, but Polk doesn't shy away from oncoming blitzers. 

Polk also increased his versatiliy by becoming far more involved in the Huskies' passing attack in 2012.


Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Wright vs Trufant worthy Alamo Bowl undercard

A suspect University of Washington defense will attempt to slow down Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III tonight in the Alamo Bowl.

One of the best defenses the Huskies have to limit Griffin is to keep him on the sideline. As such, expect UW to attempt to control the clock by handing the ball off again and again to their own superstar junior, First Team All Pac-12 running back Chris Polk.

With these two stars earning much of the pregame hype, an intriguing one on one matchup hasn't gained the attention it deserves.

Throughout much of the night you can expect to see Baylor senior wide receiver Kendall Wright being covered by Washington junior cornerback Desmond Trufant. It is a matchup that I believe is quietly among the ten best one on one battles of the bowl season.

In catching 101 passes for 1,572 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, Wright emerged from his quarterback's shadow as a bona fide first round prospect, himself. I've had scouts compare the 5-10, 190 pound Wright to Carolina Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith due to their similar straight-line speed and playmaking skills.

Trufant, the younger brother of the Seattle Seahawks' Marcus and New York Jets' Isaiah, has the athleticism to join his brothers playing cornerback in the NFL. He's earned Honorable Mention honors after two of his three starting seasons with the Huskies and appeared poised to gain even better accolades this year when he helped secure victories over Eastern Washington and Hawaii in Washington's first two games. Listed at 6-0, 184 pounds, Trufant finished the regular season with 61 tackles and tied for second in the Pac-12 with 15 passes defended. He's currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 8 junior cornerback in the country.

Trufant, in fact, played well enough early in the year to do some preliminary exploring of his draft stock, I've been told. Those close to the situation believe he's planning to return for his senior season, however.

In a game pitting Griffin vs. Polk as two "heavyweight" prospects, don't forget to keep an eye on the undercard matchup on the outside. It not only will give a good barometer of each player's ability to handle legitimate NFL competition, the winner of the battle could play a critical role in determing which team emerges tonight from San Antonio victorious.

Posted on: September 16, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough. I also try to tweet comments on prospects throughout Saturday's action. You can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

RB Tauren Poole, Tennessee: There are some huge games this weekend, but few have the longstanding rivalry that Tennessee-Florida boasts. Poole is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated running back, but he boasts a combination of size, speed, elusiveness and power that could translate into a starter at the next level. When you take into account all of the talented underclassmen, Poole is our 16th rated RB and that seems waaay too low based on the tape I've seen. With a strong game against an athletic Gator defense playing in front of their home crowd, he could get my vote to move up significantly in our rankings. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington: For all of the attention that Jake Locker and running back Chris Polk gained for their roles in Washington's surprising Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska in January, the emergence of this 6-3, 337 run-stuffer was a critical piece tot he puzzle. Ta'Amu and the Huskies will be facing a more motivated Huskers offense this time around, so it will be fascinating to see how these two teams perform in the rubber match. A strong performance in this game could lead to the underdog Huskies giving Nebraska a tough game and also push Ta'Amu into legitimate first round consideration. He could follow Phil Taylor and BJ Raji as recent run-stuffers whose strong senior seasons catapulted them into the top 32. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State: One could argue that for Michigan State to beat Notre Dame, the pressure is most on senior quarterback Kirk Cousins.However, considering the way the Irish defense has played, Cousins could have a field day. The greater pressure (and thus, why I, scouts will be paying close attention) will be on the Spartans' defense to bottle up the Irish offense. Worthy shows flashes of the penetrating quickness and power that can result in a first round pick, but needs to be more consistent. This game could go a long way in determing whether Worthy (a junior) should consider making the early leap to the NFL. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.

OLB Sean Spence, Miami: It wasn't that long ago when Miami-Ohio State would have ranked as the top game of the weekend. Now, for many it has become an after-thought. Not to me, however, and certainly not to scouts. Spence is one of the better chase linebackers in the country, but is undersized. He struggled handling Terrelle Pryor last year in this contest. While Pryor is obviously now an Oakland Raider, it will be interesting to see if Spence remembers his atypical performance a year ago and improves his open field tackling this time around. I expect that he will. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma: In case you haven't seen my Top 32 "Bigger Board," let me just say right now that I'm lower on Jones than most. While he undeniably has an NFL combination of size and arm strength, I question whether he has the accuracy and poise to be an elite pro quarterback. The fact that he's coming out of a spread offense that significantly inflates his production and typically protects him from pressure doesn't help his cause at all. However, to beat a fast, aggressive Seminoles' defense in Tallahassee, Jones will have to show improved accuracy and calm in the pocket -- which could lead me to re-evaluate him quickly. There is legitimate NFL talent on both sides of the ball for both of these programs. No one has more riding on their performance, however, than Jones, a junior passer who some compare to Sam Bradford and view as a potential top five pick in the 2012 draft. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.


Posted on: September 12, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Nebraska CB Dennard still out with muscle pull

Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was rated by some scouts as the elite senior prospect in the country heading into the 2011 season.

He won't be able to maintain that lofty grade if he doesn't recover soon from the pulled leg muscle that has kept him out of the first two games.

Dennard pulled the muscle in mid August and despite head coach Bo Pelini characterizing his star cornerback as "getting a lot closer" last week, Dennard did not play in Nebraska's victory Saturday over Fresno State.

Dennard, according to a report from Husker Extra, will not practice Monday. His status for Nebraska's first real test this weekend against the University of Washington is once again in doubt.

Asked if Dennard would be able to suit up against a Washington team that upset Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, Pelini was noncommittal, offering only a "We'll see."

Steve Sipple, the author of the article for Husker Extra predicted that Dennard would sit Saturday.

Dennard, a shade under 5-10 at 205 pounds, boasts a terrific combination of agility, speed, instincts and physicality when healthy. He earned All Big-12 accolades last season with 30 tackles, seven passes broken up and four interceptions -- including one against Washington in their first meeting last year.

Dennard is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior cornerback and currently ranks No. 8 on my Big Board.

The Nebraska defense has been a stifling one throughout much of Pelini's tenure, but the unit struggled, at times, last week against a typically feisty Fresno State team. The Bulldogs, known for their head coach Pat Hill's mantra of playing "Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere" led at the half 17-14 and was down only 28-26 early in the fourth quarter before Nebraska pulled away with a big kick return and run to extend their lead and make the game appear lopsided. Fresno entered the contest a four touchdown underdog.

Washington, on the other hand, has demonstrated a surprisingly efficient offense given the graduation of Jake Locker to the NFL. True sophomore quarterback Keith Price has actually been a statistical upgrade over Locker thus far, completing 70% of his passes with seven touchdowns against only one interception. Of course, these numbers were posted at home against Eastern Washington and Hawaii.


Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Locker, Smith star in preseason finales

Many critics panned the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans for making Aldon Smith and Jake Locker the seventh and eighth picks of the 2011 NFL Draft.

While it is impossible to grade either team based on how their prized rookies performed in one meaningless preseason game, it is safe to say that the 49ers and Titans' staffs are feeling pretty good about their selections today. 

Locker completed 15 of 17 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Locker also led the Titans with 39 rushing yards, including escaping the pocket for a 22-yard touchdown. While accuracy was a huge concern for Locker throughout his time with the Washington Huskies, it was clear the improvement he was making while working with former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien. I saw the improvement in his throwing motion and accuracy first hand, traveling to Mobile to scout Locker in person at the Senior Bowl, sitting in the stands at the Combine while he threw and later at his Pro Day, as well.

Smith was a terror off the edge for the 49ers in their final tuneup before the regular season. Operating as a reserve outside linebacker and defensive end, Smith led the 49ers with seven tackles, including 2.5 sacks and four pressures. 

I was among those who questioned if Smith would be able to make an immediate contribution as an outside linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme. A defensive end who owed a significant portion of his sacks to moving inside to defensive tackle during obvious pass rushing downs, I still worry that Smith lacks the agility and flexibility to ever be a star as a true outside linebacker. 

However, what I didn't realize when writing my off-the-cuff grades during draft weekend was the multiple roles the 49ers had planned for Smith. These roles were made clearer during training camp and in the impressive performance Smith had last night against the Chargers. Defensive coordinator Vinc Fangio had Smith operating as an outside linebacker, but also dropped him back down to defensive end. Smith was at his best when at defensive end, routinely collapsing the pocket due to his speed, long arms and aggressive scheming by San Francisco, which used stunts to free Smith up. 

Ultimately, the fourth preseason game for each player isn't likely to boost them into the starting role. Still, the strong performances were exciting for the development of two of the 2011 draft's most hotly debated prospects.   

Posted on: August 19, 2011 11:21 am
 

UW junior RB Polk undergoes arthroscopic surgery

University of Washington redshirt junior running back Chris Polk underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday (Thursday, August 18) morning to repair a meniscus injury apparently suffered the day before in practice.

The rehabilitation from the surgery is expected to take 3-4 weeks, which puts the Second Team All Pac-10 back in danger of missing the team's opener against FCS champion Eastern Washington September 3.

Polk has been a standout throughout his career with the Huskies, but really emerged onto the national scene last year, especially with an MVP performance in the Holiday Bowl win over heavily favored Nebraska. Polk rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 34 attempts against the Cornhuskers in that contest and 1,415 for the year -- second in the conference behind only Oregon's LaMichael James (who led the country with 1,731 yards).

Polk's 1,415 yards last year for the Huskies was second behind only Corey Dillon's 1,695 yards in 1996 for a single season. With two more years of eligibility, Polk appears to be well on his way towards challenging Napoleon Kaufman's record for career rushing yards. He is currently 1,546 yards behind Kaufman, who left the Huskies for the Oakland Raiders with 4,041 yards between 1991-1994. Polk is currently in sixth place on the Huskies' all-time list with 2,561 yards.

According to Huskies' head coach Steve Sarkisian (via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times), the injury was caught early and shouldn't take long for Polk to recover.
"I don't know if it kind of lingered on him and it was one cut or not, but he knew near the end of practice that this just doesn't feel right, something isn't feeling right," he said. "When we got done we said, 'Let's go in and take a look at this thing' and (surgery) was the right thing to do. ... It's not serious but I just didn't want it to linger and I thought the doctors handled it really well, and let's just do it now so we are not dealing with this thing come October, November. It potentially could be a couple of weeks but I think he already feels good about it."
The 5-11, 215 pound Polk is among the most physical backs in the country. He possesses enough lateral agility to elude and while not boasting explosive timed speed, is rarely caught from behind. He currently rates as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 running back prospect in the country. Should he enjoy a strong 2011 season, Polk is thought to be very likely to explore his NFL options. Polk graduated in June with a degree in American Ethnic Studies/Anthropology.


Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 10:53 am
 

NBA's Robinson could, likely still can play CB

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nate Robinson is making alternative plans should the NBA go into an extended lockout as many fear.

Rather than sit and take it easy or sign with an international basketball team, he told Tzvi Twersky of SLAM that he "might go play football."

Now, before you simply laugh off the idea of the 27 year-old attempting to make this career change, know this. Long before Robinson starred as a point guard for the University of Washington, was selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and won three Slam Dunk championships, he was a standout cornerback for then-head coach Rick Neuheisel's Husky football team.

Robinson, following the footsteps of his father, Jacque Robinson, signed with the Huskies on a football scholarship. He only played one season for the football team, but saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman, starting the final five contests and recording 34 tackles and two interceptions.

Statistics rarely tell the whole story and that is certainly the case here.

The 5-09, 180 pound Robinson is an extraordinary athlete whose quickness, vertical jump and surprising physicality always made him a better candidate for the NFL than the NBA, at least that was the opinion of one young NFL Draft analyst back in 2003. He certainly has been blessed with athletic genes. Father Jacque is the only player in college football history to have been named the MVP of the Rose Bowl (1982) and the Orange Bowl (1985). A running back, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round in 1985 and later played with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com agrees that Robinson could play in the NFL and emphatically states, "If I were a team that needed a cornerback, I'd sure as hell give Robinson a call."Brandt, of course, prior to working with the NFL as an analyst, spent nearly 30 years as the Dallas Cowboys' Vice President of Player Personnel.

It has been nearly ten years since Robinson played competitive football with helmets and pads. That said, there were many who doubted whether he could make the leap from the Pac-10 to the NBA strictly because of his lack of prototype height. His height wouldn't be quite the detriment as a nickel or dime cornerback, however, precisely why Robinson could surprise if given an opportunity.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com