Tyler Renew played in just eight of 12 football games for The Citadel last season, averaging barely more than two carries per game.
But the freshman fullback flashed his potential in the 10th game of the season, bursting free for a 61-yard touchdown during a 35-10 win at Elon.
Now a 5-11, 210-pound sophomore, Renew will have many more opportunities to show what he can do this season. With all-Southern Conference fullback Darien Robinson gone after rushing for 2.935 yards in his career (good for fourth on the Bulldogs' career list), there are many 'B-back' carries to be had in the Bulldogs' triple-option offense.
Renew carried 19 times for 132 yards and a TD in eight games last season, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. If things go well this season, that would be a good one-game total.
"Tyler is very steady in there and is a great leader of that unit, even though he's just a sophomore," said new offensive coordinator Brent Thompson, who coaches B-backs and quarterbacks. "He's a good strong runner and works hard. You are not going to out-work him, either on the practice field of in the weight room."
Thompson and head coach Mike Houston were unsure of what they had behind Renew at B-back, so junior slotback Vinny Miller was moved there in the spring. But the emergence of 5-10, 225-pound freshman Isiaha Smith has solidified the position enough that Miller has moved back to slotback this fall.
Smith rushed for 2,918 yards as a senior at South Hagerstown (Md.) High School last season, and in fall practice has shown that he can move the pile.
"Tyler has been a great example for Isiaha, and Isiaha is a big B-back," Thompson said. "We're looking for him to come in an grind out some yards, and I don't think we'll be able to redshirt him.
"He's going to be getting those third and fourth-down conversions late in the game. As long as he shows me he can take care of the football, that will be his role. Even when the plays aren't there in practice, he can get three or four yards against our starting defense, which is pretty impressive."
Another freshman fullback, Evan McField of Goose Creek, has missed some practice time this fall and is likely to be redshirted. Miller, a 5-10, 210-pound junior, can always switch back to fullback if needed, Thompson said.
The Bulldogs open the season Aug. 30 against Coastal Carolina at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
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