The top two backs from last year’s team are gone. Washington has seven scholarship runners all vying for a spot in the rotation.

With fall camp grinding on and the season-opener against Kent State a little over two weeks away, the running back spot is starting to come into focus a bit for UW its new coaching staff. The Seattle Times’ Mike Vorel offered his thoughts on the competition, suggesting the likely top three consists of Virginia transfer Wayne Taulapapa, Nebraska transfer Will Nixon, and third-year freshman Sam Adams II.

According to Vorel, Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said he was “crazy excited” about Adams because of his ability to “fit into everything we do.” Grubb called Adams a three-phase guy who will be a factor this season.

That’s high praise for the 6-foot-2 Adams considering he has yet to appear in a game in two seasons with the program.

Injuries have mired the room, though.

Richard Newton, who Vorel mentions as a player who isn’t quite ready to contribute yet, is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in October of last season. He was a guy who scored 11 touchdowns in 2019 and looked to have a promising future, but fell out of favor with the former staff in 2020 and then dealt with injury concerns all throughout 2021.

Taulapapa is a grad transfer who spent four seasons at Virginia, where he made 40 appearances, started 27 times, and carried the ball 266 times.

“We tell our guys, ‘We want smart, tough, and physical,’ and I think Wayne might be the best embodiment of that on our football team,” Grubb said this week, per Vorel.

Nixon offers a similar kind of versatility as Adams, a former slot back type when he was at Nebraska and a guy who can line up all around the formation.

We should get a chance to see a number of guys in action during the team’s opener on Sept. 3 against Kent State.