SMU enters 2013 having lost one of their most productive running backs in school history in Zach Line.
Filling the leadership and production (nearly 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns) of Line will not be an easy task, but the coaching staff feels they have found their replacement in Traylon Shead.
With his size, deceptive speed and catching ability out of the backfield, many believe Shead can be almost, if not as productive, as Line was.
A Cayuga product, Shead was one of the most prolific running backs in Texas high school history. He rushed for over 10,000 yards and 140 touchdowns (state record) in his career, which of course is why he was recruited so heavily.
The high school All-American committed to Texas but after not seeing playing time in Austin, he decided to go the JUCO route and transferred to Navarro JC for a season.
At Navarro, Shead rushed for 1,192 yards and 17 touchdowns and was named an honorable mention All-American, which caught the eye of SMU offensive line coach Wes Suan who recruited the back.
After arriving on the Hilltop in January, Shead wowed coaches and spectators during spring practices with his size and mobility and won the starting job out-right.
There is no doubt, however, that Shead will have big shoes to fill this-coming fall.
At 6-foot-2, 230-pounds, not only does Shead have the size to be the same kind of running back as Line, but he also has better agility and speed, which could enable him to produce big yardage in SMU's offensive system. As much as the coaching staff loves Shead's ability to run, they are also impressed with his ability to block.
Although Zach Line has moved onto the NFL, there is one more Line still on the hilltop.
Prescott Line, Zach's younger brother, will enter fall camp as the second running back after redshirting in 2012.
The 6-foot, 233-pound younger Line brother is almost an exact replica of his older brother, Zach. In fact, Prescott's high school senior season rushing the ball (2,454 yards and 37 TDs) was more impressive than Zach's senior season (1,723 yards and 17 TDs).
With his size and strength, Prescott is physical and likes to run into players, rather than bouncing the ball outside or trying to avoid contact.
The third back for the Mustangs, which is an interesting case in itself, is Ronnell Sims, who began his career on the Hilltop as a slot receiver. Like Shead, Sims is a Texas high school football legend.
As a junior, he helped Abilene win a state title and accumulated 2,900 all-purpose yards and 33 touchdowns. Sims was considered one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the state but his size, 5-foot-8, 190-pounds, scared off some of the bigger schools.
Still, Sims is extremely quick and will be a nice change of pace back for the Mustangs. He was actually recruited by Hal Mumme out of high school, and the new passing game coordinator is a big reason why Sims made the move to the backfield.
With Mumme possibly taking over as the play-caller, Sims could see the field more often than you would think.
Also keep an eye on Jared Williams. He missed all of last year with a torn ACL but could also be a change of pace back and was productive as a true freshman.
K.C. Nlemchi is another back that could get in the mix. But the former Houston Offensive Player of the Year has struggled as a pass-blocker and has been mostly a disappointment during his time at SMU. To be fair though, he hasn't really gotten a shot to prove himself during games.
Pony Stampede Two-Deep:
RB: 1. Traylon Shead 2. Prescott Line
Others to watch: Ronnell Sims, Jared Williams, K.C. Nlemchi, Luke Seeker, Dylan Dickman
Fall Camp Preview: Running Backs
Pony Stampede Top Stories
Time for SMU to turn promises into realityChad Morris arrived at SMU with high expectations, a lot of Red Bull, a heralded offense and promises made to him. Now, it's time for SMU to make those promises a reality for SMU's…
Pony StampedeYesterday at 7:35 PM
Rapid Reaction: SMU vs. HoustonSMU beat No. 11 Houston 38-16 Saturday night to improve to 3-4 on the season.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 7:30 PM
Three Up Three Down: SMU vs. HoustonHatts gives his three ups and three downs from SMU's win over No. 11 Houston at Ford Stadium Saturday night.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 1:50 PM
New Pony Stampede members get great perk!Another great partnership from the folks at Scout.com brings a big benefit to new Pony Stampede/Scout members!
Pony StampedeYesterday at 7:40 AM