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Sports >  UW football

Like so many Sirmons, Camden Sirmon ‘grew up a Dawg.’ Can the Husky walk-on separate himself at running back?

University of Washington players warm up before performing drills in Husky stadium in Seattle during NCAA football practice, Wednesday, March 30, 2022.  (Steve Ringman/Seattle Times)
University of Washington players warm up before performing drills in Husky stadium in Seattle during NCAA football practice, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. (Steve Ringman/Seattle Times)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

There are currently 26 Sirmons, according to Camden.

There is Camden Sirmon — of course — a redshirt freshman running back and converted quarterback at Washington.

There is Peter Sirmon — Camden’s uncle, Cal’s defensive coordinator and UW’s linebackers coach in 2012 and 2013.

There is Jacob Sirmon — Camden’s cousin and UW’s former quarterback, who transferred to Central Michigan last winter (before resurfacing at Northern Colorado this offseason).

There is Jackson Sirmon — Peter’s son, and Camden and Jacob’s cousins, who led the Huskies with 92 tackles last fall before joining his dad at Cal this winter.

There is Andrew Sirmon — another of Camden’s cousins and a former Bothell High School quarterback, who walked on at Washington this spring.

There is Claire Sirmon — Camden’s sister, who rowed at UW in 2018 and 2019.

Some have left.

But more keep coming.

“There’s going to be a javelin thrower coming from Walla Walla next year. His name is Dash,” Camden said with a grin, before unsurprisingly adding: “He’s a cousin of mine.”

But in a sea of assorted Sirmons, how can Camden separate? It was unlikely to happen at quarterback — the position the 6-foot, 195-pounder played his entire life before walking on at Washington. As a true freshman last fall, he was stashed behind scholarship signal callers Dylan Morris, Sam Huard and Patrick O’Brien.

In a 4-8 season, he sweated in silence.

“I wasn’t really expecting anything, coming in and being a walk-on. It’s just what you’ve got to do,” Camden Sirmon said last week. “My advice for any freshman or walk-on is just, ‘Be quiet and earn the respect of the older guys and work your (expletive) off. If an opportunity presents itself, jump on it and roll with it.’”

Before the road opener at Michigan, opportunity arose.

And Camden got rolling.

“We were playing Michigan and they had two really good backs, so they had me shift over to running back (with the scout team) and I kind of found a little bit of a niche and ran with it,” he said. “So I was playing both (quarterback and running back) all of last year during practice and everything, during certain periods. That kind of rolled into the wildcat towards the end of the year.

“Then when the new staff came they asked me which I wanted to do. I chose running back.”

That may be a surprise, considering Husky past and present. Jacob Sirmon is a quarterback. Andrew Sirmon is a quarterback.

Camden Sirmon was a quarterback.

But tailback beckoned.

“I had a lot more fun playing running back,” Camden Sirmon said. “Obviously there’s a little bit less thinking involved, but it’s a tough position in its own right. I like running the ball. I like being physical. So I was like, ‘I’m going to give this a rip and see where it goes.’”

With bloody scrapes on both knees, Camden added: “I’ve taken a couple pops, for sure. I like it. I invite contact. No one really knows this, but the Sirmons are physical. We like contact. I’m not scared of it. It’s been a little bit different, but it’s been fun.”

Especially so, considering Camden has primarily worked as Washington’s starting running back in its first six spring practices. Of course, injuries to scholarship running backs Richard Newton, Cameron Davis, Emeka Megwa and Sam Adams II have depleted UW’s depth chart, and Caleb Berry has also sat out after testing positive for COVID-19.

But Camden’s ascension may be more than a circumstantial spring mirage.

“He can probably play multiple positions,” former UW coach Jimmy Lake said last fall, when asked about Camden. “He’s a guy who works his tail off and when he gets his opportunity he goes in there and makes plays. This guy is a freshman that’s out there throwing it to who he’s supposed to. He pulls the ball and runs the ball. Our defense can’t catch him. He’s definitely an addition to our program, and we want to keep adding tough, physical, hardworking players on campus.”

That sounds like … a running back.

But Camden Sirmon — who debuted as a wildcat quarterback in the Apple Cup — must still perfect the intricacies of the position, particularly pass-catching and protection.

“I’ve been working a ton in the offseason with Dylan (Morris) and Sam (Huard) and Mike (Penix Jr.), just pass-catching, getting used to running routes,” he said. “We’re not going to be one-dimensional as a running-back room.”

UW’s coaching staff is making sure of that — adding a trio of transfers in New Mexico’s Aaron Dumas, Virginia’s Wayne Taulapapa and Nebraska’s Will Nixon this offseason. Considering the additions and eventual returns of contributors Newton and Davis, Camden may struggle to see the field this fall.

But if an opportunity presents itself, he’ll roll with it.

And while he works on route-running, he won’t have to worry about colliding with his cousin … until UW meets Cal in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 22.

“It was tough seeing Jackson leave, but he’s obviously going to do what he thinks is best for him,” Camden Sirmon said. “I wish nothing but the best for him and my uncle (Peter), except for when we play Cal. It was hard to see him go, and I was just now getting used to being the only one called ‘Sirm.’

“But now we got another one (with Andrew walking on at UW). Any time ‘Sirm’ is said a couple heads are turning.”

Even more each summer, when the “Sirms” meet for an annual reunion at Camden’s grandparents’ house on Lake Chelan. The event includes 26 Sirmons … and some specific exclusions.

“We try our best to keep (football) out of the reunion, but we find other ways to compete — like cornhole and rock paper scissors,” Camden said.

The Sirmons are competitors — and one’s a running back.

But that’s not all.

“I grew up a Dawg,” he said. “My uncle (Peter) coached here a few years back as well, so I grew up around the program. It’s always been a dream. I think that’s what kind of led me back here, and I’m really excited to be here and get to work.”

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