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Washington Pre-Spring Depth Chart Dive: Running Back

Washington Running Back

Washington is losing one of its most productive running backs Dillon Johnson who is heading to the NFL Draft. The Mississippi State transfer played in 14 games last season and tallied 1,195 yards with 16 scores. But don’t expect a significant drop-off, if any, for next year’s running back room. The group is highlighted by an Arizona transfer, a comeback player, and returns its second- and third-leading rushers from last season.

All-Conference Transfer

Jonah Coleman was the first Arizona player to announce he’d be following Jedd Fisch to Washington. The Wildcats’ leading rusher in 2023 was an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention who played in all 13 games as a sophomore. He gathered 871 yards with five touchdowns for an average of 6.8 yards per touch. Coleman is also a threat in the passing game. He caught 25 passes last year for 283 yards and a touchdown. 

Washington’s new starting quarterback Will Rogers ran an air raid for much of his time at Mississippi State. That offense uses short routes and passes to running backs as an extension of the run game. In Rogers’ 2021 and 2022 seasons, 788 of his 1,296 attempts (61%) were passes of less than nine yards or behind the line of scrimmage. Fisch does not run the air raid, but he uses short passing concepts in a similar way to extend the run. Coleman showed he can be versatile in the receiving game in addition to his powerful running. Next season, he will be a major contributor to the production of the Washington offense.

The Comeback Senior

Cameron Davis is looking to build off of his 2022 season where he was Washington’s leading touchdown scorer with 13 on the season. His 13 rushing scores are tied for ninth-most in single-season history at Washington. Davis will be a fifth-year senior this fall after an injury sidelined him for the entire 2023 season. He’s suited up in four seasons at Washington with 15 rushing touchdowns, 914 yards, and 212 attempts. 

An interesting note on Davis is that he’ll be playing for his fourth coaching staff while at Washington. As a true freshman in 2019, he played for Chris Petersen, where he started the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State. The following two seasons were under Jimmy Lake before Kalen DeBoer took over for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. He’s now suiting up for Fisch and an entirely new staff. However, he’s likely to return to the depth chart as one of the top two backs in the running back room. Davis and Coleman are two powerful runners with impressive stats to head up the tailbacks in Seattle. 

Returning Production

The Huskies return both Will Nixon and Tybo Rogers in the backfield next season. Together, they combined for 385 rushing yards and a touchdown on 77 touches for a clean five yards per carry. Nixon began his career at Nebraska as a wide receiver in 2020 where he suffered a season-ending injury in 2020 and played in just three games the following year. At Washington, he switched to running back and has played in 26 games in the last two years. Nixon’s best game in 2023 came against Cal where he carried the ball five times for 39 yards. 

Rogers was one of the players to enter the transfer portal and evaluate his options after DeBoer took the Alabama job. He ended up returning to Washington and will be a contributing member of a talented running back room next season. As a true freshman last year, he played in 12 games after bursting onto the scene in his first action in a Washington uniform. Rogers rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries in East Lansing, helping the Huskies win their first road game of the year. 

Down The Depth Chart

Daniyel Ngata transferred to Washington in the Spring of 2023 and played in 10 of Washington’s 15 games last season. He began his career at Arizona State where he was the Sun Devils’ second-leading rusher in 2022 as a junior. Ngata has over 700 yards with seven rushing scores in his career but also excels as a kick returner. At Arizona State, he returned 18 kicks for an average of 26 yards per return in 2022. Last year, he returned 17 kickoffs at Washington for 24 yards per return. The running back room is deep at Washington this season, but a veteran like Ngata is valuable to have in the group.

Fisch also flipped a class of 2024 running back in Adam Mohammed from Arizona to Washington. The Glendale, Arizona native was a three-star back out of high school where he finished with 113 total touchdowns in his career. That mark was just one shy of the state record set by Bijan Robinson.

A little deeper on the depth chart is junior Sam Adams II. He has been a Husky since 2020 and is a native of the greater Seattle area having attended Eastside Catholic High School. He first saw the field in 2022 and has 23 career attempts for 63 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman Ryder Bumgarner was a scout team running back last year who walked on to the program in 2023. The Everett, Washington native had just one offer out of high school to Lewis & Clark. After walking on at Washington, he’s earned scout team player of the week on two occasions.


Washington Running Back
Photo courtesy:  Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports


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