Richard Newton was a no-show for the opening of University of Washington spring football practice, with no specific reason spelled out for his absence, but the junior running back apparently remains part of the team.
On Wednesday, Huskies coach Jimmy Lake was vague when asked about Newton's whereabouts, which could mean COVID-19 issues are in play, though there is no confirmation of that.
Lake can't discuss whether a UW player has tested positive for the virus or not or been quarantined after being exposed to someone who has it, per university rules citing privacy concerns.
The coach went on to say that different players may or may show up for spring practice for a variety of reasons, which could involve academic commitments.
"From day to day, I think more than any other year, in the year 2021, we're in the middle of different circumstances going on on planet Earth you're going to see different guys show up and some guys aren't going to show up," Lake said.
Still, Newton's standing with the Huskies has been one of high intrigue for the past five months after he was expected to become the Huskies' lead runner last season and was named to the Doak Award watch list, signifying him as one of the nation's leading backs.
However, the Lancaster, California, product was in uniform but went unused for games against Utah and Stanford to close the 2020 season and deferred to then seniors Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant as the starter for the first two games.
He sat down shortly after breaking off an impressive 54-yard touchdown run against Arizona.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Newton came off the bench to score 11 touchdowns, 10 by rushing, leading to great expectations for him.
Among the veteran running backs returning, McGrew, Pleasant and sophomore Cameron Davis rotated in and out of Wednesday morning's drills, while redshirt freshman Jay'Veon Sunday was noticeably impressive as he took his turns.
From Waco, Texas, Sunday is a big back similar to Newton, carrying a 6-foot, 210-pound frame. He also was dressed more warmly than anyone on a cold day, wearing long sleeves and leggings in his padless uniform. He was ready for more.
"Jay'Veon's style is downhill and physical," Lake said. "He's one of the guys I had to pull back today and say, 'Hey, we're just in pajamas.' "
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