A Covey Of RBs

As spring unfolded, and the OL started doing a better job, the Rebel running backs began to blossom a bit, and it was a whole covey of them. Read about it inside.

Junior Tailback Brandon Bolden was told prior to the Red-Blue Game that he would get one series in the fanfest - he'd better make the most of it.

So, being an opportunist, Brandon took a handoff on the first play of the game, skirted around right end and gained 57 yards.

That was the extent of his day. The rest of the time Bolden spent his time cheering for the other five running backs on the team who have also had productive springs.

"Once the offensive line got some chemistry going, it was pretty cool," said Bolden. "Every one of us started making plays.

"Early in spring, the young OL was going through a learning curve and the defense was giving it to us pretty good. The OL had major growth in a short time and it made it easier for us to run the ball and see some daylight. We got real tired of getting beat."

Everyone knows a running back is only as good as his offensive front and when that aspect started to turn the corner a little bit, all the backs took turns ripping off runs the last four or five practices.

"We've got six guys and every one of us can do something. We've all got a role. We all pull for each other. We all have fun when we are out there or pulling for our other backs," Bolden noted. "A lot of people are talking about replacing Dexter (McCluster). We know it's going to be tough, but when you combine all the skills of all of us, and the coaches use us to fit our skills, we feel we can take up the slack. We feel strongly about that and feel we will prove it.

"We're like Burger King - you can have it your way. Enrique (Davis), Rodney (Scott) and I are like the power backs and Derrick (Herman), Korvic (Neat) and D.T. (Devin Thomas) are more the speed guys and slashers. We can throw a lot of different looks at a defense and keep them off balance with our different styles."

Bolden has been declared the most versatile and all-around back. After losing 8 pounds from last year, to a trimmer 211 pounds, Bolden is quicker and faster and he's long been the best blocking back and receiver out of the backfield.

"I've tried to hone all my skills because with the competition we have at running back, you can't just be a runner. You have to be able to do it all to get your number called consistently," he added. "I feel great. I am faster and I feel my balance and quickness are better."

While Bolden can still be declared "number one," Davis - thanks to the last three or four practices of spring - is breathing down his neck.

"The coaches told me to be myself, be more of a downhill runner, so that's what I made up my mind to do," said Davis. "The light has come on for me some. I had to learn when to do different things. Every run is not a bounce play, every run is not a downhill run. You have to pick what you do according to what is there and not get stuck in one mode all the time. It took me a while to learn that and to learn how I can be most effective.

"I had to get comfortable and it took me a while. I also just had to be Enrique Davis and not try to be somebody else. Now, I'll just go from here."

Herman also came to life at the end of spring after being moved to tailback from safety at the beginning of spring training.

"I think Korvic and I add a change of pace to the offense with our quickness and speed," said Herman. "Watching Brandon, Enrique and Rodney taught me a lot about the position and then I just turned my natural ability loose.

"Coach (Derrick) Nix taught me a lot and has been patient with me until I started seeing things better. Now I recognize how a play is developing and set myself up to cut as I see a hole opening. I'm setting up my blocks a lot better."

Nix was happy about the spring progress of his large group.

"We came a long way," he said. "If we had an MVP of spring at RB, it would be Enrique. He has been a kid we always knew had talent, but now he's getting the most out of his ability. He's starting to put his game together and doing the little things right. I tell them all, if they will do the little things correctly, the big things will fall into place and Enrique has let that sink in, as have the other guys too."

Is it fair to say Enrique was trying to be something he's not his first year or so as a Rebel?

"Yes and no. He was highly-recruited and hyped out of prep school and he carried that burden with him immediately. I think he put to much pressure on himself and sometimes didn't stay true to who he is," noted Derrick. "He's worked hard and figured things out. He wants to be better.

"The benefit of this development is that now I get the real Enrique Davis - the one we recruited and the one with the constant smile on his face. He had some ups and downs and got a little frustrated, but he matured and took coaching. He kept getting after it and it's starting to pay off for him. He's done a great job. I expect bigger things for him this fall."

Nix is also pleased with his other two "power" backs, but he got a real pleasant surprise with Neat and Herman.

"Korvic has the same quality Dexter had in that he gets lost in the line of scrimmage due to his lack of size and then, boom, he's through a crack and gone," Derrick stated. "Korvic is accepting what he is and what he does best. All he wants is an opportunity and a role, be it receiver, tailback, in the Wild Rebel. He's enjoying football and it's fun to watch.

"Derrick was like an early Christmas present for me. He didn't know it, but I have had my eye on him since we first got here and he was playing safety. He has a lot of quickness and I was sure if he got on offense he could make a mark. He's our most sudden guy. He can sit his hips down, see a hole and accelerate through it quicker than anyone we have. He's only had 15 practices at tailback and will only get better. I'm very excited about his future."

While Nix likes what his guys are doing, what he appreciates is their unselfishness.

"They are each others biggest cheerleaders. It's all about the team to them and that's great to see," Nix added. "They compete, but they also wants each other to succeed and that's pretty special as their coach."

Nix has a covey of backs. They all have particular skill sets.

But there's only one ball and six guys eager to get their hands on it.

"They'll all get there shot," Derrick smiled. "Whoever takes advantage of their opportunity will get more."

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