SEATTLE – Shaq Thompson might be Washington’s most versatile player, but the junior linebacker can’t be everywhere.
He’s not in the Huskies’ running backs meetings, even though it’s becoming increasingly obvious that coach Chris Petersen plans to give him some opportunities to carry the ball in 2014.
Instead, Thompson has been meeting one-on-one with running backs coach Keith Bhonapha, who is trying to teach him enough plays to use him on offense, but not so many that he’s loaded down with information while still trying to learn UW’s new defense.
“Me and him try to meet once or twice a week during our off time, so you definitely can’t give him the whole playbook,” Bhonapha said. “But I think eventually he’ll be able to do that. He’s such a natural athlete and such a smart kid, he’ll be fine.”
Thompson has looked more than fine during his limited time as a running back at UW’s spring practices. On Thursday night, during the Huskies’ most extended scrimmage action of the spring, Thompson pulled on Dwayne Washington’s No. 12 offensive jersey, took his first carry about 20 yards, then took his second carry 74 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown.
Petersen joked Saturday that he suspects foul play.
“Each time we get him the ball, he does something good. But I’m starting to sniff that he might be on the buddy system with the defense,” Petersen said. “I don’t think they want to hit one of their own. So we’ll have to see about that.”
Thompson had another handful of carries during 11-on-11 portions of UW’s Saturday practice, though none of them went for 74 yards.
He’s also participating in individual drills with the rest of UW’s running backs a little more often, including a drill Saturday in which he caught passes running out of the backfield.