Position Preview: Running Backs
(Photo courtesy of Larry Sellers)
The Jacks return two very experienced backs for the Jackrabbit offense. Mikey Daniel and Isaac Wallace represent a bit of a "thunder and lightening" for the Jackrabbits. New position coach Zach Lujan recognizes that they are losing lots of production with the graduation of Brady Mengarelli but he is confident that the group can collectively replace that production.
#26 Mikey Daniel (6-0, 230) returns after a very good sophomore season. Mikey rushed for 482 yards on a 4.8 ypc average to go with 11 touchdowns. Teams new that Mikey was going to get the ball in the redzone and still couldn't stop him. This is a credit to the offensive line but also the hard running style that Mikey exhibits. Coach Lujan sharead that Mikey is in tremendous shape and he is looking to expand his role in the offense from a goal line and 3rd down back to an every-down player. One of Mikey's more underrated duties is being the second return-man on kick return. Mikey typically was right in front of Cade and eliminated the initial would be tackler. With an increased role on offense, I'm curious to see if Mikey still handles this responsibility.
#35 Isaac Wallace (6-1, 200) is a senior who feels like he has been with the Jackrabbits forever. Over the last half of the season, Isaac was dominate out of the backfield rushing for 536 yards for a 5.1 ypc average and 5 touchdowns. He also snagged 8 passes out of the backfield. Lujan said that Isaac is a dynamic athlete in space and that he has improved his ability to get up the field after his initial cut. His run against TCU two years ago is certainly one for his personal highlight tape.
#5 Blair Mulholland (5-10, 200) returned to his natural running back position last season and only saw limited action on offense gaining 35 yards on 7 attempts as a red-shirt freshmen. Blair is a strong receiver out of the backfield and could snag the role that Mengarelli played so well for 4 seasons. Lujan has been impressed with Mulholland's work in the weight room and how he is catching up in the playbook after the position change.
#27 Pierre Strong (5-11, 210) comes off of his red-shirt season ready to go. Pierre was named scout special teams player of the week for special teams once and was identified after spring ball by Coach Stig as someone who had an excellent spring. In order to get meaningful reps this season he will need to improve his pass blocking and knowledge of the offense but with the ball in his hands he is a very tough runner.
#8 C.J. Wilson (5-10, 210) along with Strong, was another spring ball standout. C.J. joined the Jacks in January of 2018 so he is still eligible to be red-shirted. Lujan shared that C.J. is maybe the most dynamic running back in the group. However, he is still growing in the offense. Given the depth at the position it may not be a bad idea but if C.J. can contribute now to the success of the team, the coaches may opt to play him immediately. He may also be a candidate for the new four game red-shirt rule.
The incoming freshman is #29 Jefferson Lee V (5'9 190) from Marshall, MN. Jefferson finished his prep career with over 100 touchdowns. He was in Brookings all summer helping out with camp and participating in 7 on 7 with the team. Lujan shared that he is very smart and is a shifty runner. Due to the depth at the position he will likely red-shirt, get stronger, and serve as a great scout team back.Tonight we cap off Spring Ball with our annual Spring Game.— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) April 20, 2018
Hear from Coach Stig on who has stood out over the last four weeks.#GoJacks 🐰🏈 pic.twitter.com/IiEjAHGtwQ
#36 Luke Sellers (6-1, 245) is now a junior and is back after snagging a few starts at the end of last season. Sellers is described as an absolute wrecking ball and was used as a batter ram at the goal line last season and part of the reason for Mikey Daniels goal line success. Sellers role will expand this season and it will be excited to see how Coach Eidsness chooses to use him.
#40 Turner Blasius (6-1, 225) is entering his sophomore year and will look to provide physicality and energy to the special teams units and will serve as a reserve at fullback. Turner is a walk-on and represents the Jackrabbit football program to a T; hard-working, no excuses, and no frills. He continues to improve his understanding of the playbook and scheme.
#88 Sam Steckman (6-4, 245) is a converted tight end and will operate like an H-back this season. Because he is now a junior he has a good understanding of the defense. Lujon said that Steckman is improving his physicality and ability to win 1 on 1 battles.
#43 Mike Morgan (6-3, 210) is the incoming freshmen and coaches are excited for his future. He is a true athlete at the fullback position and he has a big role in future Jackrabbit offenses. He is a good runner with the ball and can catch the ball downfield.
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