Competition heats up in Lion back field

Entering this season, the Lions are returning six running backs that all saw action last season. Throughout the spring and fall, competition at the position has been heavy and at this point during fall camp. just two weeks away from the start of the season, coach Ron Roberts is still searching for the player who will emerge as the number one running back.
“They’re in a pretty good competition and that’s really what we’re trying to get out of them. Compete, compete, compete,” said Roberts. “Were trying to get somebody to step their game up, step out on the table and say ‘I’m the guy. I’m the complete guy.'”
Seniors Zeke Jones and Sam Fairley headline the group. Jones carried the ball 67 times last season for 292 yard and seven touchdowns despite missing five games due to injury. Jones’ counterpart Fairley saw the majority of the touches last season with 112 carries for 396 yards and three scores.
With injury to Jones last season, junior running back LaTruan Weary emerged as the guy that was capable of carrying the load and relieving Fairley. Weary saw action in every game with 69 carries totaling 290 yards and five touchdowns.
Another back who came on last season was  sophomore Jordan Wells. Wells only had five carries on the ground last season and one touchdown, but his heavy impact on special teams showed that he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Wells led the teams with 1,458 all-purpose yards and his 1,383 kick return yards were both school and Southland Conference single season records.
Rounding out the competition are two backs who saw limited action on the field last season but have come on strong in the spring and fall junior running back Michael Chaney and sophomore Blaine LeBlanc.
“We’ve got several bodies there that we think can help us,” said Roberts.
Roberts mentioned the running back position as one of the strengths of his team in the upcoming season and says he has high expectations for that position.
“In order to get where we want to be, we need the guy from that position to be an all-conference caliber player,” said Roberts.
While no one has emerged as that potential all-conference back, players think that as a unit they can all get the job done.
“I did the whole one back system thing and it’s not really fun. You can’t play to the best of your ability,” said Fairley. “No back is the same. You have Blaine who’s the technician, patient and does things right every time. You’ve got Zeke who has the mass to pound the ball and create holes when there’s no hole. I’m more of a quicker scat back where I’ll find the hole rather than create the hole. Then we have other backs like Michael Chaney and LeTruan, they’re hard runners, good blockers and real physical. So as a core we have one super back, and we can fit any situation, just put the right guy in.”
In spite of the constant competition at the position, the team has remained close and kept the camaraderie outside of the competition.
“We don’t let the competition mess up our friendship,” said Fairley. “Those are my closest friends on the team, each running back, because we’re around each other all the time.”