|« Schools to discuss changing Gateway Football Conference's name||UCA Bears Discovering What QB Brown Can Do For Them »|
UCA RBs Benefit From Extra Spring Work
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a position-by-position look at UCA football, from the players’ perspectives, as the Bears head into the summer).
Even though the Bears’ one-two punch at running back was about the only punch during the spring, the University of Central Arkansas’ Brent Grimes liked the experience.
Grimes, a 5-foot-9, 194-pound junior, rushed for 618 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Leonard Ceaser, a 5-foot-9, 182-pound junior, added 415 more. They were the backs with any experience available to the Bears in the spring. They’ll begin the fall as the workhorses.
“Although me and Leonard got tired, getting all those looks from the defense helped a whole lot,” Grimes said. “Instead of three backs and getting every other look, we got every look.
“My game has progressed, my vision on the field, understanding my blockers. And I got very conditioned. It makes you mentally tough.”
“I think I grew in my consistency to catch the ball,” said Ceaser, who caught six passes last season. “The reps helped me in the spring. During the summer, I hope to try to get bigger and get better in picking up blocks, using my body better.”
Grimes is more the inside threat. Ceaser works best along the flanks.
“My main focus this summer is to try to get faster,” Grimes said. “I have the vision and the physical ability and I’m quick. I want to get faster with that first step.”
Both are very excited to be working behind a veteran offensive line.
“It’s a blessing to have the same offensive line,” Grimes said. “All those guys are working hard and it’s good to know how each one blocks.”
“Having that experience in the offensive line makes it easier to do what we do,” Ceaser said. “What they do in the offensive line allows the running backs to make plays.”
Nick Cowger, a former all-state linebacker at Vilonia, was moved from linebacker to fullback last fall and came on strong toward the end of the season in filling in for injured starter Charles Twilley. He’ll start the fall as the No. 1 and easily the most experienced fullback.
“I learned a lot last year from Charles Twilley,” Cowger said. “It takes awhile for the offensive line and to learn to block in this offense. The last few games, I got in a lot, and I learned more from games than I did practice. I learned a lot from experiencing the speed of the game.”
Cowger hopes to fine-tune his skills at the position during the summer.
“I want to get faster and stronger,” he said. “I hope to be a better blocker in taking on people with the shoulders and chest.”
The backs all have high expectations for the offense.
“The offense can be as good as we want to be,” Ceaser said. “Our running backs coach, Hud Jackson, works with you. You can tell he loves you as a person because he gives all his heart. Coach (Brooks) Hollingsworth (offensive line) makes sure the guys do what they have to do up front and it makes it easy for running backs to pick spots.”
“I think on offense, we have all the weapons you could ask for,” Grimes said. “The ball can be spread around to running backs, receivers, tight ends. The coaches have simplified the offense that we can continue to get better at what we know.”
“Nathan Brown (quarterback) really helps because he knows every position inside and out,” Cowger said.
“I think we feed off Nathan’s work ethic,” Ceaser said. “If your leader is confident, it makes it easy to follow.”
“Our defense also has a lot of weapons,” Grimes added. “I think coming out of spring this team had more overall unity than we did last year. We are going into the summer with our minds on getting better. … All we got to do is put it together. If there is a time to get a ring in college, this is it.”
UCA RBs benefit from extra spring work
By David McCollum, The Log Cabin Democrat