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Houston Cougars Turn to Former Longhorn Duke Catalon to Rebuild Ground Game

A Houston native will seek to keep the Cougars’ offense balanced and explosive.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Florida State v Houston Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the unsung heroes of the Houston Cougars’ rise to college football’s Cinderella was running back Kenneth Farrow. The workhorse running back pounded his way to 958 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2015 as he opened up the field for quarterback Greg Ward Jr and his stable of talented wide receivers.

With Farrow having graduated from UH and fighting for playing time with the San Diego Chargers, the Cougars will have to find a new bell cow in the backfield to keep the Cougars’ offense balanced.

All signs point to that man being Duke Catalon.

A product of Eisenhower High School in northwest Houston, Catalon returned home to UH after spending a redshirt season at the University of Texas. Catalon was a highly-recruited 4 star running back at the prep level as a four-year letterman. 247 Sports had Catalon ranked as the #12 running back in a 2014 recruiting class behind household names such as Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Nick Chubb.

Catalon hasn’t had the explosive start to his career that the aforementioned backs have enjoyed but the sophomore still has the talent and eligibility to extend Houston’s rise to national prominence. The 6’0”, 210 pound athlete’s promise is nationally recognized as Athlon Sports named him to their preseason AAC second team despite Catalon never taking a snap at the collegiate level.

In order to get a better feel for Catalon’s abilities and background we spoke with Wescott Eberts, executive editor of SB Nation’s terrific Burnt Orange Nation.

UDD: While Duke Catalon never actually played a snap at Texas, Longhorn fans are very familiar with Catalon thanks to his early commitment to Mack Brown in 2012. How did Catalon's time at UT play out and what lead to his transfer to UH?

WE: I think Duke had some clashes with the coaching staff and decided to head elsewhere because playing time was going to be hard for him to come by after ending up in the doghouse at a pretty stacked position for the 'Horns.

UDD: How would you describe Catalon's style as a running back? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

WE: He's a slasher. Since he redshirted at Texas, I'm going off of his high school film, which is several years old now, but he's a guy who was a pretty no-nonsense runner and maybe not the most dynamic in terms of changing direction, but he has excellent speed and spent a fair amount of time working as a wide receiver, so he's capable of flexing out and being dangerous as a pass catcher.

UDD: Do you think Catalon will be a good fit for Tom Herman's offensive scheme? How much success do you see Catalon having at the AAC level?

WE: Herman had some success in getting the ball to another Texas product while at Ohio State -- Dontre Wilson. The former DeSoto star is probably a bit faster than Catalon and Duke will have a chance to be a more every-down back, but in terms of having some speed and receiving ability, there are some overlaps there. Wilson went over 1,000 all-purpose yards in 2014 under Herman and I think that Catalon could certainly well exceed Wilson's 400 yards rushing and receiving. As for his talent level compared to the competition, Catalon should be one of best in the conference from a pure talent standpoint, so I'm expecting a big season.

Thanks again to Wescott for taking the time to fill us in on Catalon. The sophomore will have a huge test ahead of him in his first collegiate game as the Cougars open their 2016 season against Oklahoma at NRG Stadium on September 3rd. If the Coogs pull their second straight upset against a blue blood program then Catalon should find himself right back in the spotlight as Houston races for a New Year’s Eve bowl selection.