WKU Football Position Preview: Running Backs
Over the next few days, The Towel Rack will examine Western Kentucky’s position groups and look into where each stands heading into the 2016 season. Today, we take a look at the running backs.
After Leon Allen sustained a horrific leg injury in the third quarter of the second game last season against Louisiana Tech, head coach Jeff Brohm and company had to make a sudden change — select another running back off of the roster to replace the injured Allen — over halfway into a contest.
Although Allen’s injury startled his teammates due to how sudden and severe it seemed, the WKU coaching staff turned to the-then freshman DeAndre Ferby to run out onto Feix Field and carry the running load for the remainder of game — and season.
Ferby wasn’t alone in his breakout season, then-junior running back Anthony Wales also played a large role in helping guide the Tops to unprecedented heights in 2015.
The duo present a thunder-and-lighting threat for the remaining of the Tops’ scheudle.
Ferby, an All-Conference USA Freshman Team member last season, rushed for 650 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first playing year on The Hill. The big, strong, fast, powerful runner gives the Hilltoppers an offensive advantage unlike any other.
The three-star prospect out of The Ensworth School in Nashville, Tenn. rushed for 1,322 yards as a senior in a season which ended with a state title.
Wales, a redshirt-senior, was named to the Second Team All-Conference USA after rushing for 1,091 yards and nine touchdowns and receiving 27 passes for 225 yards and three scores in 2015. He also averaged 7.0 yards per carry, helping him now just have 279 to gain to achieve 2,000 for his WKU career.
The Louisville native played at Central High School, a successful club in which he helped guide to back-to-back state championships after rushing for 8,123 yards in his high-school career. Wales’ explosiveness helps give the Tops a threat on both the ground and in the air.
The Ferby/Wales tandem is expected to continue their success into 2016, and if Allen can come back with any sort of regularity and health, it should be a dangerous running game once again for the Tops.
Fortunately, the dynamic backfield duo (or, hopefully, trio) won’t have to do it all this year, as there is some new blood in the system for 2016.
WKU boasts two upperclassman who have never recorded a carry for the Hilltoppers in redshirt-junior and Wyoming transfer Omar Stover and redshirt-senior Blair Vaughn, a converted linebacker.
Stover, a Bolingbrook, Ill. native, played at Bolingbrook High School where he was an All-State selection after rushing for over 1,000 yards as a senior and then competed for UW for two seasons where he recorded 42 yards on 13 carries.
The Tops also have a couple of youngsters in redshirt-freshman Marquez Trigg out of Glasgow High School and true freshman Quinton Baker out of Ashland Blazer. Trigg rushed for 1,615 yards as a senior while Baker racked up 1,967.
If things play out like they should this year — much like they did with Doughty and the passing game last year — one thing is for certain; Western Kentucky will have another dominant year on the ground.