The running game at Arkansas State could definitely be described as a work in project, something that is in transition from one offensive philosophy to another.
Two years ago the Red Wolves were found lining up in the I formation a lot, a big physical type running back was more of a norm than not.
Derek Lawson was went over 1,000 yards his sophomore season in that type of system, he had a little over 400 yards in Hugh Freeze's new spread type attack.
Not that Lawson had a bad season, this offense is built and design for a speed type back that can make people miss in open field. Not to mention that the Red Wolves set a lot of passing records with Ryan Aplin throwing for over 3,400 yards.
"The running back has to make one guy miss in open field, we have everyone else accounted for," veteran running back coach David Gunn said in an earlier interview. "Our guy has to be able to beat their guy one on one. Speed really helps with this."
Hugh Freeze admitted in Monday's press conference that a speed type back is his preference in his offensive system.
"While Jermaine and Derek provide us great leadership at the position, the two young guys are the future for our program," Freeze said. "The home run type of back that can't break it anytime they touch the football."
It also appears that is the type of back that Freeze and his coaching staff are recruiting in this next recruiting class.
Red Wolves got a chance to watch committed running back Kendrick Daniels of Sulphur Springs, Texas on a national televised game on ESPN. The Wildcats run a similar offense to Freeze throwing to the back out of the backfield and let him work his magic. Daniels scored on a 70 yard run, utilizing his speed.
"Speed type backs will be the type guys we recruit for this offense," Freeze said. "A running back has to be that home run threat type of guy."
"You will see four guys run the ball for us Saturday," Freeze said. "Jermaine is a great threat in close yardage situations and Lawson is very dependable."
Thornton and Frankie Jackson have both shown signs of greatness and speed during fall camp.
Jackson was the number three running back coming out of Louisiana two years ago. Last year he was a partial qualifier and had to workout on his own, gaining his eligibility this summer.
"Frankie and Sir Gregory gives us that big time speed threat at the running back position," Freeze said. "You will see all four of them getting carries this fall."
Arkansas State opens the 2011 season this Saturday in Champaign, Illinois in a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.