Flashes find a power running back in Durham


Freshman Kent State running back Trayion Durham. Photo by Monica Maschak.

AJ Atkinson

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Kent State has a luxury many of their conference opponents do not enjoy: a power running back.

Freshman tailback Trayion Durham heard offers from many other schools — and many larger schools than Kent State for that matter. But the larger schools wanted to make the 6-foot, 260-pound back a blocking fullback, and Durham did not want any part of that.

He jumped on the offer to attend Kent State and bring a new type of running back to the Mid-American Conference. Two weeks into the season, Durham was named the starter.

Durham’s power to run through defenders is something opposing defenses in the conference are not used to seeing. The MAC is primarily built on speed backs. Northern Illinois has the closest running back build to Durham, with junior Jamal Womble, listed as No. 3 on the Huskies’ depth chart, at 5 feet 11 inches and 247 pounds.

“I think I bring a lot to the MAC conference,” Durham said. “I think once (opposing coaches) see Kent State has a big back, they will want one, and that will open more doors for people like me.”

Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said Durham’s hard work and attitude is one of the reasons why he takes the majority of the carries on the weekends.

“He’s very quiet, always observing and always listening,” Hazell said of Durham. “I don’t see him talk hardly at all unless you ask him a question. Everything we’ve asked him to do, he’s done it as best he can.”

Durham is not the only talented tailback for the Flashes. The No. 2 running back, Anthony Meray, stands at 5 feet 7 inches and 191 pounds and provides the speed the Flashes need for running the ball on the outside.

“I’m thunder, and he’s lightening,” Durham said. “We just work together. We’re both freshmen so we both talk to each other and help each other.”

The two are what a college coach recruits for: a speed back and a power back. On 47 carries, Durham has averaged 3.2 yards per carry with a total of 151 yards. Meray has rushed for 149 yards on 37 carries for an average of four yards per carry.

Hazell said it makes his job a lot easier to have the two types of backs.

“It’s nice to be able to change the pace of who’s coming at you,” Hazell said. “Change of the force of who is coming at you. I think that our (offensive linemen) understand that we can run the ball with all those guys, and I think that helps your confidence a lot.”

Having a power-back like Durham also helps the team for those third down and short or fourth down and one-yard situations. Instead of having to rely on the pass or a quarterback sneak, Kent State now has the option to hand the ball off and run for a first down.

“You’re not afraid to hammer it inside on third-and-one or fourth-and-one because you believe that 90 percent of the time, (Durham) is going to make that first down whether it is blocked well (by the offensive line) or not,” Hazell said. “He’s going to get you a yard.”

Durham made his mark in non-conference play. Now he begins conference play this weekend as the Flashes travel to Athens this Saturday to face Ohio. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected] and @aj_atkinson.