Countdown To Spring: Running Backs

Running back may be the one position on the offense that has the most questions. The Cats lose their two top rushers and have a lot of youth in the backfield.


1. Chris Henry, 6-0, 215, Jr.
2. Xavier Smith, 5-11, 202, RS Fr.
3. Terry Longbons, 5-11, 204, RS Fr.

1. Brandon Lopez, 6-1, 220, So.
2. Eric Schlagel, 6-1, 230, So.

PLAYERS LOST: Mike Bell (graduation), Gilbert Harris (graduation), FB Pedro Limon (graduation).

2005 Stats


Rush Yds Avg TD
Chris Henry 34 119 3.5 0

LAST YEAR: The running game was not a strong point for the team last year but both Mike Bell and Gilbert Harris were solid performers. The two combined for 1,236 yards rushing and ten scores. All other ball carriers teamed to rush for 106 yards and one score. Of the running backs left on the roster only Henry has a D-I carry.

THIS YEAR: The Cats need to find a running back. Henry wowed people last spring but fumbles and a loss of confidence stalled his progress. The junior-to-be has a mix of speed and power that has observers drooling over his potential. He showed off moves in scrimmage situations that had even longtime Wildcat experts flabbergasted. The problem was that he could not transfer those skills to actual game situations. Henry had critical fumbles and just didn't show off the instincts to put it all together. If he can figure it out, watch out.

Two rookies will battle Henry. Just as Henry was the talk of last spring, Xavier Smith has been the talk of the scout team. To a man the players and coaches have been raving about what Smith did while serving as the scout team's top tailback. Smith has decent size and is very good at hitting the hole.

There has been less talk about Terry Longbons, but that is due more to injury than ability. The freshman missed most of his senior season with an injury and then hurt his shoulder last season. He had surgery on the should but could be slowed in the spring.

No matter what happens this spring, expect incoming freshmen Derke Robinson and Glyndon Bolaksy to get legitimate looks next fall.

The fullback position is another inexperienced spot. Pedro Limon graduated and Brandon Lopez only manned the position for half a season. He was converted from linebacker in the middle of the season but impressed folks with his athletic ability and strength. Walk-on Eric Schlagel, a bruising blocker, will get reps at the spot.

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