UW Roster Review, No. 2-99: McGrew Might Find Minutes Harder to Come By

The sixth-year senior running back has been a loyal soldier for a long time.
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Back for a sixth season, Sean McGrew has done everything that's been expected of a 5-foot-7, 180-pound running back for the University of Washington football team, where he weighs less than half the amount of his starting left guard.

He's been a spot starter when needed. A 100-yard rusher when needed. The only guy at any position on the roster to score at least one Husky touchdown in each of the past four seasons.

As UW running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said, you always know exactly what you're getting from the dependable Sean McGrew.

With this loyal solider, however, the question entering the 2021 season will be this: What will McGrew receive in return in terms of playing time as he takes advantage of the pandemic eligibility provisions to play once more when typically he should be done competing?

While it's safe to say he'll be used in some effective manner, the Huskies are in no obligation to feed him the ball simply because he signed on again.

McGrew is now dealing with a back-on-good-graces junior Richard Newton, who looks every bit like an NFL running whenever he touches the ball. Think of the Seahawks' Chris Carson.

The slight-of-build Torrance, California, product also must contend with the emergence of sophomore Cam Davis, who ran with the first unit more than any other back this past month and was impressive as he further develops his game.

Oh, and let us not forget Jay'Veon Sunday, the redshirt freshman from Waco, Texas. He drew a lot of attention to himself in April, both by high-stepping his way through spring practice and by picking himself up off the turf after getting laid out by Husky defenders unimpressed with his showmanship.

McGrew, the UW kickoff returner for multiple seasons, also will have to fend off Michigan transfer Giles Jackson, he of the 95- and 97-yard touchdown returns for the Wolverines, to retain that special-teams role.

As always, he remains undaunted by all of this and just dives in.

"We have one of the most talented rooms in the country," the veteran back said. "We just come in every day and compete, and it makes us all better."

Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.

McGrew wears No. 5 on offense, the same digit as defender Alex Cook.

The Huskies won't abandon him, but they still need to take advantage of Newton and Davis, both solid pro prospects and guys who have waited their turns, and keep Sunday interested in what's going on.

It will be a little dicey keeping everyone happy and well utilized this coming season. 

McGrew, who started two of the four games held last fall, isn't the only veteran player who likely will feel a minutes squeeze after carrying a sizable load. 

Fellow sixth-year senior running back Kamari Pleasant, who started the other two games in 2020, is in the same situation of possibly doing more watching than playing.

While Sunday has advanced up the depth chart, fellow redshirt freshman Sam Adams and freshman Caleb Berry are scholarship runners bringing up the rear of the depth chart. There's a huge bottleneck of scholarship running backs blessed with considerable skill.

"We've all got a little different running style," McGrew said. "Some of us are power backs and some of us are speed and finesse. We all do different things and we're good at different things."

McGrew previously played alongside NFL-bound running backs in Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, both with the Miami Dolphins, and now these young prospects in Newton and Davis, and was able to stay in the mix. 

He didn't pull on a uniform again to just pile up yards, touchdowns and minutes. He'll be happy with other tangible rewards.

"I just wanted to come back and win a Rose Bowl and a Pac-12 championship," he said, "so there really wasn't much to decide."

2021 Outlook: Reserve running back

UW Service Time: Played in 36 games, started 5

Stats: 1,644 total offense yards, 854 yards rushing on 165 carries, 8 touchdowns, 19 receptions for 161 yards, and 30 kickoff returns for 629 yards. He has a long run of 44 yards, long catch of 41 and long return of 42

Individual Honors: None

Pro prospects: NFL free-agent signee

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