A Look Ahead: Running Backs

The Cats have a lot of runners on the roster. Mike Bell will be the guy, but you know that others will see there share of carries. It could be a crowded, yet talented group.

Starters Returning: Mike Bell, Sr. (204 rushes for 950 yards, 5 tds)

Others Returning: Gilbert Harris, Sr. (67 for 285, 2 tds), Chris Henry, So. (56 for 159, 2 tds), Pedro Limon (FB), Sr. (1 for 2, 6 catches for 43 yards)

Players Lost:No significant contributors.

Recruits Added: Terry Longbons and Xavier Smith. JC transfer Paul Nichols can play some FB, but will primarily be used as a TE/H-Back. They will entertain adding walk-ons at the spot to bolster the scout team.

2006 Plans: The Cats will lose Bell, Harris and Limon, but added two runners this year. They will look to add a HB and a FB in 2006.


Terry Longbons
RB, 5-11, 211
Centennial HS, Peoria, AZ

17th ranked running back in the nation

Description:Big, physical running back who can still motor. Longbons is built like a linebacker but can move with the ball. He does not have great breakaway speed, but he is effective in the open field. Similar to former Wildcat Clarence Farmer, only with a much better head on his shoulders.

Bio:Longbons had a legitimate chance at breaking the Arizona career rushing mark, but an injury ended his season prematurely. He rushed for over 3,500 yards in his career and was going to make a serious run at Marcus Thomas' mark. Longbons committed to Arizona in August and then dealt with rumor after rumor that he was going to look elsewhere. He is the high school teammate of Wildcat signee Jordan Lowe.

2005 Outlook:Longbons has a great chance to see time right away. The Cats have just three scholarship running backs returning and he appears to be physically ready. He won't redshirt if he can see significant snaps, but he will have to battle Gilbert Harris and Chris Henry to back up Mike Bell.

Quote: "It really is special having him on the team…If people are going to sell out to stop the run, we're going to hurt them all year with the pass. And if that helps us win, Terry will be happy." --Centenial Head Coach Richard Taylor

Xavier Smith
RB, 6-0, 200
SunnysideHS, Tucson, AZ

13th ranked running back in the nation

Description:Cut from the Mike Bell mode. Speedy, outside runner with just enough strength to be effective between the tackles. Smith has a very impressive build and great instincts. Not a bruising runner, he does fare well north to south. He's got good vertical quickness. He makes nice cuts, but does not dance too much. At 200-pounds he is a tough runner to bring down.

Bio:Smtih had 159 rushes for 1,806 yards and 26 touchdowns. He first-team All-State pick by the coaches and was first-team All-Southern Arizona and all-city. He led Sunnyside to the 4-A State title as a junior and helped the Blue Devils to the state playoffs again this season. .

2005 Outlook:They don't need Smith to play right away, but if he proves ready he'll see the field. The Cats have three returning runners, plus Terry Longbons, but Smith is a speed back and only Mike Bell is similar. Smith can play defense, but won't get a try there any time soon.

Quote: "He moves well running the ball on the outside and inside. He has good vision and quickness." --Sunny Head Coach Richard Sanchez

Mike Canales says: Xavier Smith and Terry Longbons, they bring a lot. When I see Longbons, I see Eddie George, big, strong, strapping downhill running back. Xavier is a threat to get outside and can still work the middle of the field. They both have their strengths. Terry needs to be able to catch the football."

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