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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

2011 Spring Football Outlook: Running Backs

Release: 03/11/2011
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Editor's note: This is the second of an eight-part series taking a quick look at the Iowa State football team position by position heading into spring practice. A review of the running back position is below. Click the "play" link in the photo above to see an interview with head coach Paul Rhoads.

Pre-Spring Running Back Depth Chart
21 *Shontrelle Johnson, 5-9, 180, So.
32 *Jeff Woody, 6-0, 232, So.#.
8   *James White, 5-8, 181, So.#  
24  Duran “Duck” Hollis, 5-9, 203, Fr.#   

Gone is one of the steadiest performers in Iowa State football history. Three-year starter Alexander Robinson, a leader on and off the field, finished his career with 3,309 career rushing yards and 13 100-yard games, ranking him fourth in Iowa State history in both categories. Rhoads is confident that the cupboard is not bare.

Iowa State fans got a glimpse of the potential rushing prowess that is Shontrelle Johnson last season. As a true freshman, he garnered 102 yards on 12 carries with a 61-yard TD dash in a win over Texas Tech. A shifty, make-you-miss type of back, the Deland, Fla. native had a 33-yard TD rush against Kansas.  Both runs advertised the break-away speed that makes him a dangerous foe. Johnson averaged 6.2 yards per carry last season, gaining 218 yards on 35 rushes. He also caught four passes and averaged 23.6 yards on 24 kickoff returns.

Jeff Woody demonstrated the toughness that makes the sophomore a perfect complement to Johnson. Woody is a banger who rushed for 191 yards on 47 carries and a TD last season. The former walk-on from Southeast Polk High School earned his biggest yards on a nine-yard carry to grab a key first-down late to keep the clock running in Iowa State’s 28-21 win at No. 22 Texas. The effort helped the Cyclones earn their first-ever win over Texas and first road win over a top 25 team in 20 years. When his teammates needed him most, Woody delivered.

James White saw limited action as a redshirt freshman but Rhoads is high on what contributions he is capable of making to the Iowa State program. With White in the fold, the field of tailbacks is truly the deepest group of Cyclone runners in recent memory. Duran “Duck” Hollis exceeded the expectations of Iowa State’s coaching staff last season in his redshirt year. Hollis did it all both ways as a prep senior in 2009 at Fort Worth (Texas)-Polytechnic. He rushed for 1,217 yards and 14 TDs in his final high school season. He also caught 20 passes for two touchdowns while making 86 tackles on with five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.


Rhoads on his running backs:
“I think the running back position has the chance to be arguably our best position on this football team. We have great depth. We are going in at least four deep this spring.

“Alexander Robinson was a very, very good player for us here at Iowa State But we have multiple guys we can put out this there this season because of this depth. We think we will be better in 2011 over 2010. Shontrelle Johnson leads as we go into spring practice. He put up good numbers as a true freshman. He now has a better understand of what it takes to play at this level. A better understanding of the offense puts him in a position to lead that group. Jeff Woody is a proven player. We are excited about James White and what he is capable of achieving. Duran “Duck” Hollis comes off a red-shirt and he’s a stronger and quicker guy than people know right now. Our staff thinks he’s a fine football player.”

“There is a young man by the name of Tyler Leo, who is a walk-on from Ankeny, that we think has a future in this program. Tyler’s standing not much different from Jeff Woody, who came on as a walk-on and has already earned a scholarship.”


Other position breakdowns
- Quarterbacks: March 10

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