We are about two months away from the start of fall camp and three months until the start of the season. Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a quick look at each position group. Up today is the running backs.
Keola Antolin 5-8, 195 SR 143-695 4.7 7TD/28 rec 204 yds)
Daniel Jenkins 5-9, 190 SO* (8-26 3.2)
Kylan Butler 5-8, 180, SO*
Ka’Deem Carey 5-10, 190 FR
Jared Baker 5-9, 180 FR
Terris Jones 5-9, 180 FR*
This is a group that no one is giving any credit to and some of it is warranted. Gone is Nick Grigsby, and for the year Greg Nwoko, the team’s second and third leading rushers. Keola Antolin is an overlooked player who gained nearly 700 yards last year and is a threat to break off a big run at any time. Antolin had 143 carries last year, the rest of the unit had nine and six runners have never had a D-I carry.
In addition to inexperience, the group will be running behind an inexperienced line and of the six halfbacks on the roster, five of them are under 5-10.
SAY GOODBYE TO:Nic Grigsby and Greg Nwoko. Grigsby graduated and Nwoko was lost for at least half of the season when he tore his ACL during spring practice. They were the second and third leading rushers on the squad.
SAY HELLO TO: Carey and Baker. Both are well-regarded true freshmen running backs who will get a chance to see the field right away. They are very similar to each other and similar to the rest of the running backs on the roster.
Can they establish the run? The Wildcats have not been able to get a consistent ground game going the past few years, especially late in games when they are trying to milk a lead and keep the ball out of the other team’s hands.
Will they even try to run? In the final spring scrimmage the Wildcats hardly ran the ball and a lot of evidence points to the Wildcats running less than 15 times a game, at least until the young offensive line gets used to run blocking and the rigors of D-I football.
Can Antolin carry the load? Antolin has battled injuries every year, and that is without being the featured back for an entire season. Truth be told, no one knows if Antolin can carry the load the whole season, but it is likely that he will not be asked to.
Will Carey qualify? The signs look good. Carey graduated with no issues and is already working out with the team. Word is that he has the necessary GPA to enroll on his transcripts and the only hurdle left will be getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Will Nwoko be back? Right now Nwoko is set to come back in late October or early November, but the early prognosis is that he, and the rest of the players with knee injuries, are doing great in their rehab and are a little ahead of schedule