After losing one of the most productive running backs in school history, the Mustangs have a huge void to fill. With Zach Line graduating, the Mustangs will almost certainly hand over the keys to the ground game to former Texas running back Traylon Shead. Shead won't be alone however. SMU has a stable of young backs that will fight to spell Shead and possibly get into the rotation as a third down back. K.C. Nlemchi, Jared Williams and Prescott Line are the names of a few.
Traylon Shead, 6-2, 225, JR
Ronnell Sims, 5-8, 185, SO
Dylan Dickman, 6-0, 220, RS-FR
Prescott Line, 6-0, 215, RS-FR
Jared Williams, 5-9, 195, SO
Luke Seeker, 5-11, 200, SO
K.C. Nlemchi 6-1, 215, SO
Rishaad Wimbley, 6-0, 260, JR
Strengths: Versatility and Potential
Weaknesses: Speed and Experience
One could make the fair assumption that Traylon Shead will be the full time starter by the time that 2013 football season begins for the Mustangs. He is the most talented, most experienced and most capable of the group and proved that at the junior college level. Shead rushed for over 1,200 yards last year and impressed with his size and strength. Coming out of high school, he was a four-star recruit who eventually ended up at Texas before transferring to Navarro JC.
Shead has great measurables and ran a 4.5 in the 40, which would be much faster than former SMU running back Zach Line as far as straight-line speed. Another thing that will help him is the fact that he got to campus a full semester early to get familiar with the playbook, the coaching staff as well as his teammates so by the time the summer rolls around he should feel comfortable. If Shead can play with half the heart that Zach Line did, he should fill the running back void just fine.
In regards to the players behind Shead, the water is much murkier. The Mustangs have a plethora of backs who could potentially step up as a compliment to the featured back but the question is who is up for the task.
What to Watch: Who will be the number two?
Many have been waiting for K.C. Nlemchi to prove himself as one of the better backs on the squad and this year he could get chance to show his talent on the field. In practice Nlemchi has shown the ability to catch passes out of the backfield so if he can show consistency there is a chance he could be a viable third down option for the team.
A couple of years ago both Rashaad Wimbley and Jared Williams showed budding potential but since then, Williams has been sidelined by a nasty leg injury, and Wimbley has been very quiet. Depending on Williams' health and Wimbley's ability to shed some weight and work on getting faster, they may be able to make contribution to the run game but time will only tell.
The most interesting players behind Shead are redshirt freshman Prescott Line and sophomore Luke Seeker. Both being very accomplished running backs in high school, it will be intriguing to see if they can arise from the shadows and into the forefront. Prescott Line has been rumored to be a better all-around athlete than his brother but this has yet to be proven. Seeker actually looked very good in practices last year and has an extremely high motor. He runs hard and could surprise some people by earning his fair share of carries. Last year, Seeker saw more game action than Wimbley did.
Breakout Player: K.C. Nlemchi
Nlemchi has the talent to be a solid number two option behind Shead. He has a good skillset, he runs well and has good hands. Sometimes he has a tendency to get lost in the sauce when trying to find holes to run through but in sitting behind Line it is possible that he has learned to be patient. With Shead on board he will still have a veteran there to mentor him as well. This is the year that Nlemchi shows whether he is a game player or a practice player. But he should own his complimentary role and play it well starting this spring.
Keep An Eye On: Luke Seeker
If Nlemchi doesn't shine he had better watch out. Seekeer is an incredibly hard working young man and will earn carries based on his attitude and ethic alone. He is not a bad player either. He runs hard, he is smart and he sees the field pretty well. Both Seeker and Prescott Line will come into the spring looking to earn touches and if Nlemchi fails to distance himself from the pack, don't be surprised if Seeker gets an extended amount of work this offseason.
-Nlemchi will become the primary third down option
-Williams will still be a little bothered by his injury
-Seeker and Line will both impress
-Wimbley will be moved back to defense
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