“I’m a guy who likes contact. But I have to seek the open hole and run to it.”
Through it, too. This is Ashton Shumpert’s necessary new attitude as #1 running back. Rather than try making his own hole he looks to follow line-flow first, then use whatever hole develops.
Shumpert showed spring signs of fitting this script. “I learned from the blocking schemes, about the cuts and all that.” So far this has kept the true junior ahead of an impressive younger pack of backs in a competitive preseason.
2014 did let Shumpert flash a few moves. His 5.8-per carry yardage was not far behind Josh Robinson’s rate, even when Shumpert went into traffic more often. With Robinson gone to the NFL, Shumpert’s incentive to be an all-tools runner is all the stronger.
In fact, “I’d say the motivation came when we left Miami.” Since then Shumpert has worked to secure his #1 place. His challenge isn’t just veteran and ‘speed’ back Brandon Holloway, either.
Redshirts Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams left the Orange Bowl ready to run themselves. Shumpert is competitive but he’s also candid. “They can bring a bunch of things. Both have size, both have speed.”
Shump’s trump is pure power and proven blocking ability. Coach Dan Mullen’s spread schemes can surely use this package, but Shumpert wants every-snap status. He even tries copying Robinson’s low pad level approach, not easy given their six-inch height difference!
The real takeaway is whoever starts or subs, Mississippi State has a roster to fit any running role. Yes, Shumpert has premier power. But “I’d say we’re all thunder and lightning.”