Fans who showed up to watch Washington's spring football practice Thursday saw less of junior running back Chris Polk than they might have expected.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said his staff is intentionally trying to limit the hits that Polk takes in spring. Besides, he said, they already know what Polk can do in live situations, so it’s cautious to protect him a little in April.
But there’s also less of Polk, physically, to see these days. At 218 pounds, he’s 10 pounds lighter than he was when he hammered Nebraska for 177 rushing yards in the Holiday Bowl and put together a 284-yard rushing effort in the win over Washington State.
“I felt like I was too heavy,” Polk said after Thursday’s practice. “I didn’t really like the way I was moving. I think I’m a little faster.”
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He finished the season with 1,415 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He’s No. 6 on the UW all-time rushing list with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
“We felt like we really needed that,” he said of the revenge win over Nebraska.
After Tuesday’s practice, the running backs corps got a brief tutorial from former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, one of Polk’s favorite players when he was young.
“He just told us to come out every day and concentrate on everything you need to work on and never take a day off,” Polk said. “Basically, it was to perfect your craft.”
With so much attention on graduated quarterback Jake Locker, Polk may have been a little under-appreciated by national media for a back with his production.
“I hope I’m under the radar,” Polk said.
When roll was taken for the Communications 202 class Thursday morning, Sarkisian was there. He said that he tries to show up – unannounced – for a class at least once a week. Players never know when he might be there to check on them.
“I think it’s important to have a presence on upper campus,” he said. “Not only for our players, but for our student body to know that we’re student-athletes and not just football players.”
The Huskies are scheduled to practice Saturday at 11 a.m. at Husky Stadium with part of the workout consisting of a scrimmage.