Golden Norse look to repeat solid rushing performance of 2017

NEO Athletics
Monty Franks

MIAMI — With one part-time returning starter in the offensive
backfield, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College begins the July summer
session with a bevy of running back prospects.

Offensive coordinator Anthony Rice and assistant coach Gerald Howse
were pleased with the progression of players during spring drills.
More than 11 running back prospects are expected to check in Sunday,
July 1 for the start of the month-long workout period.

“We’ve got a room full of running backs that have all dome a pretty
good job so far,” offensive coordinator Andrew Rice said. “Of the 11
players we had during the spring at the position, three have separated
themselves — Darran Williams, Micha Cooper and James Brown.
While Williams and Cooper are redshirt sophomores, Brown is a redshirt freshman.

Last season Williams, from Edmond Santa Fe, ranked second on the team
with 694 yards on 94 carries and three touchdowns.
Cooper is from Madill while Brown graduated from Stafford, Texas
before attending Houston Baptist College for one semester.
In 2017, the Golden Norse led the Southwest Junior College Football
Conference in rushing. NEO averaged 244.2 total yards per game while
scoring 22 touchdowns. The Norsemen averaged 6.2 yards per carry.

“Primarily, coach Howse and I will go with the runner that has a hot
hand,” Rice said. “Our consistent communication with each other about
how guys are playing, their energy level and what different guys give
us will factor in to our decision about who is on the field at any
given time.

“We saw last year with Darwin Thompson, Darran and even Cortez Watson
that when one of them got hot you wanted to ride that for a little
bit,” Rice said.

Even though the Norsemen have “depth in numbers” in the backfield,
former slot receiver Jaiden Woodson, a redshirt freshman from Cedar
Creek, Texas, made the move to tailback during spring workouts.
Woodson attended the University of Memphis, Tennessee, in 2016, but
did not play.

“With the style of offense we run, their ability to make cuts, find
holes and run vertical is key to our success on the ground,” Rice
said. “Coming out of the backfield and catching the ball is another
plus.”

Redshirt sophomores Eric Casey, Vian; Z’Quan Hogan, Norman North and
Zach Hall, Tyler, Texas, provide experienced depth at running back.
Hall attended Stephen F. Austin University as a freshman.
Other redshirt freshmen returning to challenge for playing time are
Chandler Wilson, Commerce; James Clair, Hartsville, South Carolina;
Chris Friday, Oklahoma City Douglass; Isaiah Walo, Loganville, Georgia
and Richedi Tshitoko. Spavinaw, Texas.

True freshmen running backs signed during February include Matthew
Ray, Deerfield Beach, Florida; Damien Thompson, Brownsboro, Texas and
Abraham Toe, Lynn, Massachusetts.