Freshman tailback grabs No. 1 spot on Flashes’ depth chart

Freshman Trayion Durham. Photo courtesy of Kent State Athletics.

Freshman Trayion Durham. Photo courtesy of Kent State Athletics.

AJ Atkinson

Running back Trayion Durham made the most of his start last weekend at Kansas State.

Playing on Kent State’s struggling offense, Durham stuck out in the backfield, rushing for 72 yards on 18 carries and never for a loss.

Now, the freshman has been named the No. 1 running back on the team.

Durham is a different build than the tailbacks seen at Kent State and other Mid-American Conference schools. Durham is listed as 6-foot and 260 pounds, a running back size often seen at larger schools. Some of the larger schools, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, even felt Durham was too big for them to be a running back.

“I feel like other schools underestimated me when I told them what I could do,” Durham said after Monday’s press conference. “They didn’t get the point. They didn’t understand. It was my point to prove to other schools that I am an every-down back. I felt like I’d rather come to a school that needs me and wants me.”

The 260-pound back is surprisingly agile for his build. A tailback this big is definitely categorized as a power back, but Durham shows agility along with power. This can cause problems for the defense. Opposing linebackers would expect by Durham’s size that he will come straight at them and try to plow them over, but Durham has enough speed and agility to make a slight adjustment in direction and cause the linebackers to go from setting their feet for a hard tackle to sliding over to make the play.

Sliding Durham to No. 1 means running back Jacquise Terry is out of his starting job his senior year. Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said during Monday’s press conference that this is not the end of Terry’s role with the team.

“(Terry) is our captain, and he is a good player for us,” said Hazell. “He is more of a certain type of runner, and there are certain specific plays he will run for us.”

Hazell also discussed the idea of moving Terry to slot receiver, a position he played his sophomore year at Kent State.

“He’s a good receiver coming out of the backfield, so helping us out in the slot may be another option,” Hazell said. “I still like him with the ball in his hands on certain plays. I think he’s a good running back.”

Durham’s second start as the No. 1 tailback is against the 2-1 South Alabama Jaguars. The Jaguars attack with three defensive linemen and four linebackers. They play two deep safeties and try to force their opponent to throw the ball. Hazell said their main strategy in Saturday’s game is just protecting the football.

“We need to do a great job in the passing game protecting the football,” Hazell said after Wednesday’s practice. “And that’s everybody. That’s the protection up front, the quarterback placing the ball and the receivers not tipping the ball so they’re picked off.”

Follow a live blog of Saturday’s home game at 3:30 p.m. on the KentWired homepage.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected].