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Running Backs Preview

August 25, 2009

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West Liberty University offensive coordinator Gary Krol entered the preseason facing the challenge of replacing record-setting All-Region tailback Branden Ore and the Hilltopper coach is very pleased with what he’s seen from his running backs heading into Saturday’s season opener at Edinboro.

    “You can’t replace a player like Branden Ore,” said Krol, “but you can replace his production. We have a lot of experienced weapons we can use back there.”

    Kevon Calhoun (5-11, 185), a junior from Rockville, Md. who missed last year with a medical redshirt, has emerged as the heir apparent after a strong spring showing and an outstanding August.

    “Kevon has really stepped up, both as a player and a leader,” Krol said. “He’s had an excellent camp. Kevon has good speed, excellent hands and an outstanding grasp of the offense. I really think he’s as good as any back in the league.”

    Senior Eddie Hills (5-10, 185), a two-time All-WVIAC honoree from Palmetto, Fla. who led the league in receiving last season after earning first-team All-WVIAC honors at tailback as a sophomore, will probably still get his share of carries. The same holds true for junior Ryan Travis (6-3, 235), another converted running back who emerged as a receiving force last season out of the H-Back spot.

    “There’s a lot of versatility in this group,” Krol said. “That allows you to put together some really good packages with players who have been there and done that on this level. They all understand exactly what it is we’re trying to do.”

    Jimmy Burress (5-11, 195), a sophomore from Wheeling, W.Va., and Stephen Ford (5-9, 175), a junior from Cambridge, Ohio, lack the experience of the returning veterans but have each flashed breakaway speed during the preseason and will certainly contribute.

    Arvin Bell (6-0, 205), a redshirt freshman from Buffalo, N.Y., is the Hilltoppers’ most physical back and could line up at fullback or H-Back on occasion.

    DeVaughn Gordon (5-10, 215), a true freshman from Wheeling, W.Va., suffered an ankle injury in a high school all-star game over the summer and missed almost the entire preseason. He’s regarded as a top prospect for the future.

    Chris Paul (5-10, 180), a true freshman from Richmond, Va., began the transition from high school to college during August camp.

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