Washington running back J.R. Hasty, a redshirt freshman from Bellevue High School, is likely to be academically ineligible this season, sources said Friday.
Nothing is official yet, as final grades for summer school have not been posted. It is expected a resolution on Hasty's situation will come sometime next week.
But Washington coaches have already prepared for the probable absence of Hasty, the first big-name in-state recruit signed by Tyrone Willingham, by moving senior Shelton Sampson from cornerback to running back. The Huskies have only two other returning scholarship running backs — senior Kenny James and junior Louis Rankin. Two incoming freshmen, Leilyon Myers and Matt Mosley, are also likely to get a shot at running back.
Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano wouldn't comment on the specifics of Hasty's situation, saying only that "he has some issues he's dealing with."
But he confirmed the move of Sampson, who was a running back at UW for his first three years before quitting the team midway through last season after being switched to cornerback — in part because he had troubles hanging on to the football. Sampson returned to the team in the spring and played cornerback.
"Shelton has worked really hard, and he's a good football player," Lappano said.
Hasty, recently named by The Sporting News as one of three "newcomers to watch" in the Pac-10, was listed third on the depth chart behind James and Rankin at the end of spring practice. But coaches envisioned using all three substantially.
Hasty, in fact, had been expected to make a run at the starting position during spring ball, but he struggled with some added weight and fell behind the two veterans.
Lappano said moving Sampson was to ensure the team would have at least three experienced running backs.
"We always need three that you feel you can win with at the Pac-10 level, and I think you can win with those three guys," he said.
It is expected that Hasty will stay at UW and attempt to regain eligibility for the 2007 season if he is declared ineligible for this season.
Hasty finished his Bellevue career with 5,493 yards and 92 touchdowns, the latter the third-most in state history, as the Wolverines won four straight Class 3A state titles.
He sat out last season as a redshirt, though Willingham didn't make the final decision until mid-October as Hasty played well enough in practice to have the coaches consider playing him immediately as he was honored as the top offensive scout-team player.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org