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Amid a Tempest of RB Talent Jones Must Find His Starter

Between Prescott Line, K.C. Nlemchi, Daniel Gresham, Kevin Pope and Luke Seeker, the SMU Mustangs have no shortage of talent in the backfield.

Prescott busts through the Line. HA!
Prescott busts through the Line. HA!
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As previously discussed SMU currently has a vacancy at quarterback and two very good options for the possible ascension to the throne. But, even the best quarterbacks still have running backs, right? Or did I miss something? The SMU Mustangs head into the 2014 season without a clear cut starter at running back. However, they do have several talented and/or experienced options.

Prescott Line

Prescott, aside from having the most SMU name ever, is the younger brother of former SMU RB Zach Line. Zach, during his tenure at SMU, posted three consecutive 1200+ yard seasons and after graduating in 2012 finished as SMU's second all-time leading rusher, only 265 yards shy of the (Eric Dickerson). Zach Line displaced Craig James on SMU Mt. Rushmore, and earned himself the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2012, before defecting to the NFL.

These are all facts of which I'm sure younger brother Prescott is completely ignorant. Younger brothers typically have zero idea what there older siblings have or continue to accomplish.

No mom, I don't need any snacks down here. Yes, I know he's a doctor. No, I don't want to meet y'all for dinner. I mean, who the hell knows what my older brothers are up to? Probably not blogging about SMU.

Yeah. Prescott is a gigantic white guy who profiles, currently, as the starter for SMU heading into the final three weeks before the opening kick-off. Prescott returns as the most experienced RB on the staff and after posting 332 yards on 90 carries last year, people seem optimistic about what he could contribute to a typical June Jones pass-happy offense.

The only real problem with that is the obvious problem with all of that. 332 yards rushing with 3 touchdowns, and a 3.7 average is not necessarily stellar. His QB last year, the mighty Gilbert, had more rushing yards (424) and more touchdowns (6). Reasons for optimism with Line The Younger stem from what we've heard recently out of camp. As linked above, there are reasons people at SMU feel so strongly about him.

Jones, as quoted by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, made the claim, "He’s the best blocker that I’ve had... Prescott has unbelievable leverage and can block anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 300-pound lineman. He can block ’em." Considering the absolute necessity of a calm and collected quarterback to the June Jones system, having a RB who can routinely pick up a blitz is, perhaps, more important than a running back who can break a linebackers ankles.

That isn't to say those skills are mutually exclusive but they typically don't display much correlation.

K.C. Nlemchi

The junior saw time in eight games last year, missing the last two with an injury. However, the 51 rushes and 238 total yards are not immediately ignorable. Listed in Phil Steele as a big play threat, a vague term usually reserved for 'fast and shifty' or 'wildly inconsistent,' Nlemchi will most likely get plenty of reps on the starting line to compliment Prescott Line. A thunder and lighting combination, if you will.

That is, of course, unless he sees his role overtaken by

Daniel Gresham

Gresham, the Fort Worth All Saints product, was rated by Rivals as a three star running back. Originally a Texas commit, then a Louisville commit, then an outsider looking for a home after Bobby Petrino decided to pull his offer, ending up at SMU. Check out his Rivals page, if you feel like boundless optimism, or salivation, or the weird prick of pride that comes from your program landing the prospect with a provenance of promises ranging in prestige from Alabama to UTSA.

Here is a highlight video of the young man bulldozing his way through a slew of poorly equipped defenders. Admittedly, the three star recruit was playing against the awkward, pubescent, defenders of a high school league. Admittedly, he was the biggest strongest guy on the field in probably every game he played, that's just how it works with three stars.

The actual number of 3+ star recruits, even in Texas, even in the Metroplex is so mind-bogglingly insignificant that a talented young man can simply be more than the defenders tasked with stopping him. Admittedly, most (99%) of the defenders he faced were more worried about getting their license on time or Becca texting them after the game. Admittedly, a mixtape created by the school to hype up its own signees on signing day is not the most objective and reliable piece of evidence of a running backs ability.

But. BUT. Hacchi Macchi. Gresham steamed through that line of teenagers like a bad case of Mono or a cop at a house party.

Dave Campbell's Texas Football, that sacrosanct publication covering, well, Texas football, listed Gresham as the jewel of last years recruiting class for SMU.

Kevin Pope

Pope, the converted Linebacker, who only saw action out of the back field in the final two games of the season last year has reportedly continued to practice as both a linebacker and a running back. Although, considering the rash of injuries that plagued the Ponies last season it is difficult to determine whether depth was the motivating factor in placing Pope in the backfield, or if they truly wanted him carrying the football.

Luke Seeker

The Junior out of Austin could surprise some people and see playing time heading into his Junior season.


While I understand the need this offense creates for a running back who can serve as an extra blocker and the consistency that comes from a big 'bruising' type of runner, I highly doubt Gresham won't emerge as the starter at some point in the season. He appears too fast and too agile for an offense like SMU's to ignore. He appears, at this moment, to be a more potent threat out of the backfield to serve as an extra receiver and potential highlight reel waiting to happen. This doesn't mean Prescott never see's the field. But, blocking is a running backs secondary skill, not his primary. With that in mind, I expect the freshman to see the majority of the carries for SMU.

That is, of course, unless K.C. Nlemchi explodes in practice...