Charles Jones will touch the football for the first time in a college game Saturday, and he will “probably” do so as Kansas State’s starting running back.
After two quiet years with the Wildcats, coach Bill Snyder says Jones, a redshirt sophomore, is ready to lead K-State’s backfield.
“We will probably start the ballgame with Charles Jones,” Snyder said. “That is the way it stands right now.”
K-State will release its full depth chart Tuesday, and it will be interesting to see how Snyder ranks the other running backs on the roster. Though he singled out Jones during his time on the Big 12 coaches teleconference on Monday, Snyder said the Wildcats will still use a committee approach at the position when they take on Stephen F. Austin in the season opener for both teams at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium.
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Jones may see the biggest workload, but DeMarcus Robinson, Jarvis Leverett and Judah Jones should all receive carries. Running back has been a major question for the K-State since the departure of John Hubert. The competition to replace him may spill into the season.
“I think all of them emerged,” Snyder said. “I feel reasonably comfortable right now with each and every one of them … I think Charles Jones and DeMarcus Robinson, Jarvis Leverett and, of course, we have also utilized Judah Jones in there as well ... I think each and every one of them has made improvement ... All of them will have their opportunities.”
Charles Jones is a relative unknown. He rushed for 1,767 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Mandeville High in Louisiana, coming to K-State with high aspirations. But his name was rarely mentioned while he served on the scout team as a redshirt and he didn’t see any action last year. He made a debut of sorts in the spring, taking every handoff with K-State’s first-team offense in the spring game. But his performance left Snyder wanting more.
Robinson is a former Wichita Northwest standout that is entering his senior year. Leverett, a redshirt sophomore, turned heads on the scout team his first year on campus, and split carries with Charles Jones during spring practices. Judah Jones, a redshirt freshman, plays both receiver and running back. He delivered several highlights at the spring game.
At K-State’s media day in early August, co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel said he expected K-State to use a committee of running backs this season, adding that freshman Dalvin Warmack and fullback Glenn Gronkowski could earn carries. Snyder didn’t mention either of those names Monday.
The last time Charles Jones spoke with media, in early August, he said he had a plan to win the starting job.
“Ultimately, I just want to show I can be that best back that is versatile with his blocking, catching the ball out of backfield and running downhill,” he said. “I think whoever is the most versatile player will end up getting the most carries.”
The last time Snyder spoke with media, he was waiting on a handful of junior-college transfers to arrive for preseason camp.
Offensive lineman A.J. Allen, linebacker D’Vonta Derricott, defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker Isiah Riddle have all since joined K-State’s roster.
Big things were expected from all four late arrivals. Snyder thinks they have acclimated well.
“It’s never an easy adjustment no matter how quickly you get here,” Snyder said. “For those who came late it was even harder. I am proud of each and every one of them. It is a different environment, a different arena for them. The expectations are pretty great and demanding and I think they responded to them well. How it impacts them for the opening ballgame remains to be seen. I think every day it just gets better and better for each of them.”
THOUGHTS ON THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF?
Snyder was asked a question about the new college football playoff on Monday. His answer wasn’t enlightening.
“I’m not really paying any attention to it right now,” Snyder said. “It is something that needed to take place, because so many people are involved with it. But if I were to pay any attention to it right now at all I would be detracting from our preparation for this season and the opening ballgame.”
Snyder went on to say his main concern about the playoff system is how it may change bowl games.
“The only concerns I have had in the past is: Will it affect the bowl system as we know it?” Snyder said. “Because there is an awful lot of teams that will never get invested in a playoff system, consequently the bowl opportunities are very important to them. If it plays out that it doesn’t impact the bowl system, I think that will be a positive.”