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Huskies RB Sankey is 'second coming of Emmitt Smith'

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 9:54 p.m.
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Washington running back Bishop Sankey runs against Arizona during the first quarter on Sept. 28, 2013, at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

University of Washington junior Bishop Sankey has simplified the art of playing running back.

Sankey runs north and south as if he's navigating Interstate 95, while bouncing off tacklers like a Emmitt Smith throwback.

“A lot of times the defense will jump out of their gaps, and the holes are there for me,” said Sankey, who is second nationally with 131 carries and fourth in the country in rushing with 146.4 yards per game. “As a running back, you have to get a feel for it.

“You're designed to go to a certain hole. I run with my eyes up and hit the hole as hard as I can. If it gets cluttered up, you bend it backside or try to bounce it outside. You'll start seeing holes that you didn't see when the defense was fresh.”

In No. 16 Washington's 31-13 win over Pac-12 rival Arizona two weeks ago, Sankey rushed a school-record 40 times for 161 yards and a touchdown. It took more than three defenders to bring down Sankey on 30 of those carries.

The 5-foot-10, 203-pound Sankey will slide a little to the left or cut to the right on occasion. But he never drifts too far off his north-south compass.

“He's the only franchise running back in college football this year,” said Dave-Te Thomas of Scouting Services Inc.

Thomas, who is under contract to 27 NFL teams, recently met with the St. Louis Rams to discuss his 180-page scouting report on Sankey for the 2014 Draft.

“I'm trying to tell people this is the second coming of Emmitt Smith. He has a low center of gravity,” Thomas said of Sankey, who averages 5.6 yards per carry and has four 100-yard games this season. Asked to compare Sankey to a current NFL running back, Thomas replied, “Think Ray Rice (of the Baltimore Ravens).”

“Bishop has a great deal of patience when he runs the football,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He has excellent balance and the unique ability to explode and make cuts in tight quarters. He's got a great deal of comfort in the schemes that we run, and he's in great physical condition. The end result is you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between his first run of the game and his last run of the game.”

Sankey, who scored the first touchdown in Washington's new stadium in the opener against Boise State, will be tested Saturday against Oregon. A big rushing game for Sankey against the No. 2 in team in the nation could enhance the upset hopes of Washington, which lost, 31-28, at No. 5 Stanford last week.

“It's working pretty good for us, moving the ball on the ground and through the air,” Sankey said. “It's something we're going to continue to get better at. I try to get the most out of each carry. I take what the defense gives me.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jharris@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.

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