Womble Leading Hutchinson

With an unstoppable rushing attack, led by former (and future) Tar Heel Jamal Womble, Hutchinson (Kan.) CC is undefeated, ranked No. 6 in the NJCAA national poll, and expected to compete for the national title.

"This is the first time I'm getting a lot of carries – even more so than in high school," Womble said. "[I'm] getting about 20 a game.

"We just have some good blocking schemes, some good play calling, and everything is working out for the best."

Hutchinson ranks No. 4 in the NJCAA in rushing offense with a 261 yards-per-game average. A lot of that is attributed to Womble, who leads the NJCAA in rushing yards with 417 and averages 6.95 yards on 60 carries. The tailback has also rushed for five touchdowns.

"I was fortunate enough to be at Carolina for a year and a half," Womble said. "And that strength and conditioning training I had, I carried it on over to junior college. And it just seems like I'm just stronger than the guys I'm going against – I just use that to my advantage and get extra yards after contact."

After three semesters at UNC, Womble, a red-shirt sophomore, transferred to Hutchinson after becoming academically ineligible.

"I talk about it a lot with my family and the coaches here, and I truly believe [coming to Hutchinson] is a blessing in disguise," Womble said. "Because I felt I left North Carolina a little immature. I didn't really know what was important, as far as academically and how to practice."

At Hutchinson, Womble matured quickly.

"When I got here, I was thrown right in the fire," Womble said. "The coach told me I was going to be the guy. And I feel like, with me getting this amount of carries, it's getting a full season under my belt. With the red-shirt season and injuries, it's been two years since I had a full season under my belt. I feel this is only helping my North Carolina career."

The offensive scheme Hutchinson employs, according to Womble, is similar to UNC's, with the exception of the terminology.

"The only bad thing about it is when I get back [to UNC] some of my brothers – like Shaun [Draughn], Ryan [Houston], Johnny [White] – they'll be leaving," Womble said. "But it's kind of bittersweet, because if I was at Carolina, I would be splitting time with two or three other ‘backs. Here, it's pretty much a two-back system – me and Angelo [Pease]."

Also, the senior Tar Heel trio's exit means UNC's starting running back job will be wide open.

"That's just another one of those blessings," Womble said. "I've just got to come in and I know there are no excuses. There's going to be an open job. I know we're going to have some good ‘backs there… But I just can't wait to get in there and start the competition."

Since he was a full qualifier out of high school, in order to return to UNC, Womble will have to graduate from Hutchinson.

"I actually went to my academic advisor [Monday]," Womble said. "I need ten hours to graduate. I'm enrolled in 14 [hours]. So after this semester, I'll be back in Carolina in January."

In the meantime, the UNC coaches write Womble "quite a bit" and he speaks at least once a week over the phone with Ken Browning, the Tar Heels' running backs coach.

Additionally, Womble keeps in regular contact with several players on the team. He communicates the most with former roommates Todd Harrelson and Christian Wilson. Wilson actually visited Womble in Hutchinson for the Fourth of July weekend.

"We're still close," Womble said. "They always tell me ‘Man, you've got to come back.' I'm not going to lie, some of the relationships I've made I'm going to have for the rest of my life. I can't wait to get back and start playing with those guys again."

Womble is eligible to be recruited by other schools. But he has told the Hutchinson coaches that the only way he'd entertain other opportunities is if UNC underwent major coaching coaches.

"My position coach always tells me ‘Hey, your name is getting hot out there,'" Womble said. "Honestly, with the [NCAA] investigation going on there, there was a point where I was like ‘What's going on?' [and] ‘Is Coach [Butch] Davis going to be there or not?' But once I found out there was nothing to worry about, I just let my coaches know to keep [other schools] on the back burner, but let everyone know I'm committed to Carolina."

Several BCS schools have inquired about Womble, but he's not exactly sure who or how many.

"I'm not even worried about it," Womble said. "I'm going to be a Tar Heel."

Womble also isn't worried about the NCAA investigation and hasn't questioned Browning about it.

"I'm not even really that curious, because I know the integrity of the coaches there," Womble said. "I've been around the program. I know the type of people [the coaches] are and if anything happened its mistakes of the players – bad decisions or whatever… I try to let them handle it and stay out of it."

Harrelson and Wilson, though, have kept Womble updated on what it has been like the past few months.

"They told me it's been crazy," Womble said. "… They said it hasn't been like the first two years of training camp. It's been wild some of the days, as far as the media.

"I can never get the mood [of the locker room] from Todd, just because he's always laughing and what not – he doesn't let anything get him down… I know Christian was telling me the negative attention he was worried about getting to some of the other guys. But he said overall, they've just been working that much harder just to counteract the negative attention."

Hutchinson played Independence (Kan.) CC the night UNC opened its season against LSU on nationally television. However, Womble was able to catch the end of the game in the locker room.

"That game, I was screaming at the TV," Womble said. "It was just crazy… I felt like I was there. Because I've been a part of the team so long, when [UNC] lost, even though we just won our game, I felt like we had just lost our game."

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