By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – It’s looking more likely with each spring practice that Shaq Thompson will doing far more than just linebacking for the Huskies this fall.
Washington’s dynamic hitter and interception-man further piqued the curiosity and excitement of new coach Chris Petersen Thursday night by lighting up the Huskies’ 11th of 15 spring workouts at Husky Stadium.
As, yes, a running back.
The playmaker for two seasons on defense pulled off his white, No.-7 jersey he had been wearing on defense and put on a purple No. 12 for offense during the final scrimmage portion of the two-plus-hour practice. One play after fellow starting linebacker Travis Feeney intercepted a pass from Troy Williams over the middle and returned it about 60 yards for a touchdown, Thompson sprinted just as fast off left tackle for a 70-yard score. No Husky defender had an angle on Thompson, let alone a chance to bring him down.
On the next series the 6-foot-2, 231-pound former Class-A outfielder in the Boston Red Sox organization bulled through two defensive colleagues on an impressive 15-yard run.
In Tuesday’s practice, Thompson — the defensive version — sped into the backfield, ripped the ball from a running back behind the line of scrimmage and zoomed the other way for a touchdown.
About the only thing Thompson hasn’t done for UW this week is turn off the lights of Husky Stadium following practices.
Petersen said after that Tuesday morning show that he can’t wait to see all that Thompson can do for the Huskies this season — beginning Aug. 30 in the opener at Hawai’i.
It’s becoming more and more likely Thompson will be doing it on defense and on offense that Saturday in Honolulu. And it could be for more than just limited packages at running back, the way Thompson looks and to hear Petersen tell it.
"Really, I’m still learning about him," the coach said. "If I’d have to say one thing I know now, he’s a very good football player. You put him on offense. You put him on defense. You put him as a kick returner (which he did once, impressively, late in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl against Petersen’s Boise State Broncos). He can just do a lot of things very well.
"I like coming out here and see him get a run, make a play on defense and pull the ball out. So that’s interesting. That’s intriguing. He’s one of the guys I’m really anxious to go play a real game with, to see that show up, because he does so many good things out here. But I want to see it in a game."
Petersen had players appear on both offense and defense while he went 92-12 in eight seasons at Boise State.
"Absolutely, we have done that with a handful of kids over the years," he said. "We’ve done it in the secondary. We’ve done it at tight end. We’ve done it at running back. We’ve done it at linebacker with fullback-type guys. So I’ve done it.
"At the end of the day, we want to get our best personnel on the field. We have a lot of personnel, but if we truly have a guy who can help us on either side of the ball, we have to somehow get that done."
So far, so very good in getting that done.
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Petersen dismissed backup defensive back Patrick Enewally from the team for an internal team issue. The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Enewally, from Norwalk, Calif., redshirted his first year at UW in 2013. … Quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow remained suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Jeff Lindquist and Williams were the only two quarterbacks throwing for the 11th consecutive practice. … The Huskies practice again Saturday at Husky Stadium. Next Saturday, April 19, fans can watch the final spring practice for free beginning at 1 p.m. There will also be a “fan fest” of activities beginning at 10 a.m. that day on the East Field. Fans can get autographs and pictures with all the Huskies players and coaches.