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Originally published November 3, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Page modified November 4, 2014 at 7:03 PM

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Huskies add another player to the two-way fold with John Ross III working on defense

Ross, UW’s electric sophomore wide receiver, practiced at cornerback Monday morning. In the Huskies’ final three games last season, he helped out at that spot in a reserve role.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Call it a blockbuster trade of teammates.

As star linebacker Shaq Thompson continues to lead the charge as the Huskies’ newfound featured running back, the Washington offense has offered up its most exciting player to the UW defense.

Yes, John Ross III is again giving defense a try.

Ross, UW’s electric sophomore wide receiver, practiced at cornerback Monday morning. In the Huskies’ final three games last season, he helped out at that spot in a reserve role.

“Having John back there is something special,” UW senior linebacker John Timu said after practice Monday.

Thompson, meanwhile, has given new life to the UW offense as the featured running back, rushing for 272 yards on 36 carries the past two games. His two-way talents also rekindled chatter about his chances at the Heisman Trophy.

“Hey, I don’t get a chance to watch everybody around the country,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “But I do see a lot. And I haven’t seen a better football player out there than that guy.”

Thompson, in his third year as a starter on defense, did not play a single snap at linebacker against Colorado, but Petersen said Thompson would “probably” play both ways when the Huskies (6-3, 2-3) play No. 18 UCLA (7-2, 4-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium. UCLA, of course, has its own two-way player in Myles Jack, the former Bellevue High star.

“We’ve got to pick and choose our spots and … not overwhelm him,” Petersen said of Thompson. “I think it’s kind of fun. I think it’s cool for Shaq, I think it’s cool for our team, I think it’s good for even recruiting. There’s a lot of really good high school players that play two ways, and if they’re good enough, we’ll play you two ways.”

The Huskies need Ross and the added depth in the defensive secondary. They were already young and thin there before sophomore strong safety Trevor Walker went down with a torn ACL last week. Starting cornerback Jermaine Kelly was lost for the season with a broken ankle in September.

Freshman Dante Pettis, for the first time this season, was listed as a starting receiver, ahead of Ross, on the depth chart UW distributed Monday. Pettis scored the first two touchdowns of his UW career Saturday in the victory at Colorado, including an 87-yard punt return.

Ross sat out UW’s game against Georgia State in September with a knee injury, and Petersen said Ross has been “banged up” in recent weeks, too.

Kikaha, Shelton semifinalists

Washington seniors Hau’oli Kikaha and Danny Shelton were among the 20 semifinalists named Monday for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the national defensive player of the year. They are the only teammates to make the semifinalists list.

Later Monday, Kikaha was one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi award, given to the nation’s best lineman or linebacker.

O-line help on the way?

Junior Dexter Charles, the Huskies’ regular starter at left guard, “should be” back in action this week, Petersen said.

Charles has missed the past two games with an apparent foot injury.

Senior right tackle Ben Riva (ankle) is out again this week, Petersen said.

NOTE

• Washington’s game at Arizona on Nov. 15 has been scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff, it was announced Monday. The Pac-12 game will broadcast on FOX, Channel 13.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @a_jude.



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