Polk on cusp of being best Huskies RB ever

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 10, 2011
A large image of Washington running back Chris Polk is on display just outside the Husky Hall of Fame in Hec Edmundson Pavilion. It seems inevitable that picture will be moved behind the glass doors of the Hall of Fame after Polk leaves. Just when Polk, a redshirt junior, exits is one of two pressing questions surrounding him. The other is whether he will topple Napoleon Kaufman's school rushing record of 4,106 yards before departing. The answer to each is unclear as he heads home to Southern California this weekend for perhaps the final time as a Husky when Washington faces 18th-ranked USC. Sitting with his shin wrapped in ice following a record-setting performance against Arizona two weeks ago, Polk had plenty to talk about. He gave much credit for his five touchdowns to the offensive line. He referenced his high school receiving skills when explaining how he became the first Husky with 100 yards rushing and receiving in one game. Oh, and it came as he scored five total touchdowns that night in Washington's 42-31 win over the Wildcats. ''It doesn't mean nothing if it doesn't come with a win,'' Polk said after the win. ''I really didn't even know I scored that much or that I did all those things today, but you know the win, that means the most to me.'' Also high on the priority list is chasing down Kaufman's record, set from 1991-94. Whether Polk does will have influence on his decision to declare for the NFL draft or return to Washington in 2012. Polk has been surging since 2009. After gaining 1,113 yards rushing that year, Polk powered for 1,415 more in 2010. During the three consecutive wins to close last season, he averaged 24 carries and 146 yards. He scored the game-winning touchdown against California as time expired. His 284 yards rushing in the Apple Cup were the second-highest total in school history; Hugh McElhenny ran for 296 yards in 1950 against Washington State. Polk labeled last season's Apple Cup his prime outing. ''Not only because the rushing yards, but being that the whole situation that we needed to win that game to go to a bowl game,'' Polk said. ''Plus it was Apple Cup in their house and last time we were down there we lost. That was my No. 1 game.'' Polk has 3,657 yards rushing in his career with four games left this season. He's averaging 122 yards rushing per game this season. Maintaining that average would push him to 4,145 career yards rushing and past Kaufman by season's end. He and Kaufman are the only Washington backs to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Polk shunned the draft last season when he was projected as high as a second-round pick. After such accomplishments by the end of this year, he's surely leaving, right? ''I really haven't even thought about that yet,'' Polk said. ''It's going to be a tough decision come the end of the season. But I'm just going to keep playing like I want to play, just keep doing what's best for our team.''
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