Hargrett leads group of versatile running backs in ’11
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 23:04
With the loss of starting running back Noel Devine to graduation, the West Virginia football team is looking to break in a new starting running back in 2011.
During Wednesday morning's practice – the first in full pads this spring – one back in particular grabbed the attention of those in attendance.
Redshirt sophomore Daquan Hargrett, who carried the ball just three times last season, flashed through the heart of the defense to score on what would have been a 65-yard touchdown run.
"It is always encouraging to see home run plays, not only for the coaches but also for the players," said first-year running backs coach Robert Gillespie. "That is a kid that hasn't played a lot. He has gotten the chance to play, and he has taken advantage of it."
Gillespie didn't stop there, though, when talking about Hargrett. He then made a joke about the Miami, Fla. native's diminutive stature.
"He is a guy that is what, about 5-foot-2 or whatever he is," Gillespie said with a laugh. "He is a small guy."
In reality, Hargrett actually stands at 5-foot-6 and tips the scale at 187 pounds.
Despite this, Gillespie said he expects for Hargrett to continue to stay in the battle for the starting running back position. However, he was not on the two-deep depth chart at running back to start the season.
"There is not a prototypical back for this offense," Gillespie said. "We will fit it around what we have. I want to find guys that are twitchy, whether it be big or small. I want guys that can catch the ball out of the backfield, that are big enough for pass protection and guys that love to play football."
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh agreed with Gillespie and said the size of the back toting the ball does not change the way his guys approach blocking.
"I get asked that question all the time, and it doesn't matter to me," Bedenbaugh said. "I know Coach Gillespie and Coach Holgorsen will find the best guy to put in there, but our blocking does not change based on the back. It is up to us to create holes, but it is up to the running backs to find them."
Fortunately for Gillespie, he will have a large variety of running backs to pick from when the time comes to name a starter.
Big backs such as Ryan Clarke, Matt Lindamood and Shawne Alston have run the ball well during spring practice while smaller backs like Hargrett and Trey Johnson have shown their ability in the new offense.
"There is a great combination of big guys and small guys," Gillespie said. "Our personnel will dictate what we do, but we feel good about what we do have."
Thus far, Gillespie has said that he is surprised with the way all of the backs are working together to learn the new offense, even in the light of the open competition.
"They are not a group of guys that are content with not knowing," Gillespie said. "Whenever they mess up, I see the older guys talking to the younger guys. They want to learn the offense, and it means something to them."