(Neb.)- Eagles Building Depth At Running Back
CHADRON, Neb. -- Two durable, hard-running tailbacks are among the Chadron State College football team's major assets. Derek Jackson and Kevin Coy are being counted on to carry a big load for the Eagles again this fall.
They have combined to pack the pigskin 500 times for 2,651 yards, an average of 5.3 yards, and 23 touchdowns the past two seasons. They also can catch the ball out of the backfield, grabbing 35 tosses for 241 yards the last two years, and aren't afraid to block hard-charging defenders who are trying to keep CSC quarterbacks from passing.
The coaches will be knocking on wood after they read this, but neither Jackson nor Coy has missed a play because of an injury since either one set foot on the Chadron State campus.
Jackson is a 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior from Pueblo, Colo., and Coy is a 6-0, 212 pound junior from Davenport, Fla. Offensive coordinator Chris Stein is glad they play for the Eagles. He calls Jackson "a slasher" and Coy "a pounder."
"We think both of them are near the top of the running backs list in the conference," Stein said. "They run hard, can break tackles and every once in a while pop a long run. I have lots of confidence in both of them. It's nice to have two guys who are pretty much interchangeable at the position. There's not a whole lot of difference in them."
Jackson also played as a redshirt freshman in 2014, carrying the ball 65 times for 433 yards for a 6.7-yard average and five TDs, one of them on a 75-yard jaunt that helped the Eagles squeeze out a 48-45 win over Western New Mexico.
Entering his senior season, Jackson has rushed 382 times for 2,057 yards and 31 touchdowns. His yardage total is 11th on the Eagles' all-time list, he's 10th in rushing touchdowns and his 5.38-yard rushing average is sixth.
After playing two years, Coy had carried 183 times for 1,027 yards for a 5.6-yard average and has reached the end zone seven times, including jaunts of 70 and 75 yards.
Jackson and Coy have shared playing time throughout their careers with another stellar tailback, Cody Paul, who at 5-5 and 170 pounds fit the definition of a scatback and gave the Eagles a different look.
Paul graduated last spring having carried 271 times from scrimmage for 1,727 yards and a 6.4-yard average, besides earning all-RMAC first-team honors as a sophomore as the conference's leading kickoff return specialist and last season as the punt return leader. His 3,766 all-purpose yards are the sixth highest in CSC annals.
The Chadron State coaches are hoping that another Californian, sophomore Priest Jennings, can help replace Paul this fall.
With three established backs already in place last year, Jennings carried just 19 times but gained 191 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
"He's the fastest running back we have and gives us some explosiveness," Stein said. "There's a good chance he'll get loose for some pretty big runs."
Much to the delight of the Chadron State coaches, there's another running back in the mix this fall. He's Brad Johnston, who earned Class B all-state honors while rushing for 1,496 yards, an average of 8.4 yards a carry, and scored 19 touchdowns for the Scottsbluff Bearcats as a senior in 2015.
Chadron State regarded him one of its prize recruits a year ago.
Johnston was unable to practice last fall or spring because of a sports hernia, but has recovered and is making the trip to Fort Lewis College at Durango, Colo., for Saturday's season-opener.
"We're really glad he's able to play," Stein said. "He's a big kid (6-0, 205) who runs well and will be a good player for us. Having him ready to play really helps our depth at running back."
Stein said Johnston's "got some shake" when he carries the ball, but balance may be his best asset, allowing him to often keep his feet after he's hit.
Another redshirt freshman also could get some playing time. He's Coy Colgate, a 5-9, 215-pound fullback from Arizona and a third-generation Chadron State athlete. His grandfather, Paul Colgate, played center for the Eagles in the late 1960s and his father, Tim, threw the discus at CSC in the early 1990s.
Stein said Colgate is hard-nosed, has decent speed and is difficult to tackle.
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