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Lafayette's Scheuerman could be next in long string of impressive Leopard running backs
In its recent history Lafayette College’s football program has spawned a plethora of superb running backs.
Tom Costello, Jonathan Hurt, Erik Marsh, Joe McCourt, Leonard Moore – all 1,000-yard rushers, five of the top six all-time running backs by yardage produced in the Leopards’ long history – and all coached by
Frank Tavani, either as a position coach or the Lafayette head coach.
That makes a lot of sense. Tavani himself was a outstanding ball carrier, earning All-American honors in 1974 at Lebanon Valley when he ran for over 1,000 yards.
And after Saturday’s gloriously impressive 37-12 rout of Penn – what 20-year Quaker coach Al Bagnoli called “an old-fashioned rear-end kicking, the kind we haven’t had here in a real long time” – one of the most intriguing questions to come from the game involves running backs.
Is freshman Ross Scheuerman the next great back of the Tavani era?
Scheuerman enjoyed a tremendously successful coming-out party at Franklin Field. He ran for 98 yards, showing explosiveness and elusiveness that stretched Penn’s defense while showing off his impressive speed.
Scheuerman also showed off his receiving skills with a 44-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Andrew Shoop.
“To be able to play as a freshman at this level is impressive,” Tavani said. “We saw Ross in our camp and loved his speed and his work ethic. He’s very explosive. He can really go.”
Scheuerman, from Creamridge, N.J., is listed at 6-0 and 190 pounds, both of which may be slight exaggerations. Out of pads, he looks like what he is: a college freshman who was in high school a few months ago. At a Saturday night post-game press conference, Scheuerman still looked like a high schooler next to grizzled veteran safety Kyle Simmons.
But if Scheuerman doesn’t intimidate with physical size, he does so with physical skills. His hard cuts, ability to get into the open field and make people miss and his explosiveness at hitting the hole give him the tools necessary to succeed at the Patriot League level.
“He’s still feeling his way on the inside running game, and he’s still learning to use his speed,” Tavani said; “He’s a physical kid, but it’s a lot to throw at a freshman.”
In some ways, Scheuerman brings to mind a still-in-development version of Colgate’s superb, Walter Payton Award-contending tailback Nate Eachus, who has run for over 3,600 yards in his career with the Red Raiders. Both are aggressive, slashing runners, both superb athletes, and both were outstanding wrestlers in high school.
Now there’s a long way to go before Scheuerman builds a legacy like Eachus or some of Tavani’s greats. He has to prove his durability, which in today’s football seems to be an oft-elusive attribute at the skill positions. He has to prove he can get the two yards to convert third down on a wintry afternoon in Hamilton, N.Y. or Worcester, Mass. or Bethlehem with Lafayette’s Patriot League hopes on the line, and has to show he can punch the ball in the end zone.
But one aspect of Scheuerman’s development seems accounted for – heart, guts and character. “He’s a humble kid, a great kid,” Tavani said.
For his impressive showing at Penn followed his disastrous fumble at Georgetown that cost the Leopards a chance at a winning score. For Scheuerman to follow what had to be a gut-wrenching horror of a loss with such panache and production at Penn shows a young man ready to mature into a fine college football player – with a little help.
“I knew I had made a bad mistake in the last game,” said Scheuerman Saturday night. “But a lot of seniors came up and talked to me and picked me up when I was down. The senior leadership on this team is great.”
And if one of the seniors’ legacies turns out to be boosting a dazzling career for Ross Scheuerman, it will be greatness all around.
By Brad Wilson, The Express-Times