Wesley McMahand: small stature but huge heart

He's listed at 5-foot-6, but Army starting running back Wesley McMahand might actually be close to 5-5. But McMahand can run, he's proved that all season, and he's got an outside shot at rushing for 1,000 yards this year. Not bad for a kid who never took a snap before this season.

A kid that most Division I-A schools blew off during his senior season at E.E. Waddell High School in Charlotte.

"But I knew he could play (Division I-A)," said former E.E. Waddell coach Bennie McMurray. McMurray sent out tape of his star player to several I-A schools. McMahand rushed for 2,138 yards as a senior, the ninth-most in state history, but the I-A's said he was too small. "All (the I-A) schools wanted that marquee running back, taller and bigger," McMurray said. "But I knew Wesley was strong enough, he benches 320 pounds, he gets the tough yards, and once he breaks free, he's hard to catch up with." He sure is. McMahand, a sophomore, has 456 yards in six games this season with four touchdowns. To put those stats in perspective, former Army star running back Carlton Jones, who graduated in May, rushed for 632 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore. It should be pointed out that Jones played that season in former coach Todd Berry's failed offense.

Army coach Bobby Ross liked McMahand so much that, according to McMurray, he came down to Charlotte and signed him himself. McMahand makes defenders move with his slick moves, his body low to the ground, his powerful legs always moving.

Take last Saturday against Virginia Military Institute for example. McMahand scored on a 25-yard run on Army's first possession, cutting left, waiting for a block, and leaving VMI in the dust. The Black Knights went on to win 62-7. Being small actually has some advantages. Opposing defenders, standing as much as a foot taller, often lose McMahand in the line of scrimmage. When they finally do find him, McMahand is often hitting a hole, making a run up the field.

Here's to a lot more runs like that by McMahand this season.

Extra points: After this weekend's action, the combined record of Army's last six opponents is 19-12. The first six are 17-18, but that includes two 1-5 teams (Rice and VMI) ...Connecticut, the Black Knights' opponent this weekend, has lost two games in a row (Navy, at South Florida) by a combined score of 79-33 ... Army has lost to UConn three straight years by a combined score of 135-37. However, the Black Knights are expected to be able to play with the Huskies this time.

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