FAYETTEVILLE — Two running backs are always better than one, some would say.
Fayetteville is ready to put this theory to the test this season.
The Bulldogs won’t have career rushing leader Brice Gahagans roaming in the backfield anymore as Gahagans and his school record 2,425 yards have graduated. In his place, Fayetteville returns plenty of options. Seniors Braydon Cook and Terrell Tyson saw plenty of action last year with Gahagans sidelined with injuries, and the pair now appear ready to step to the forefront as a two-headed backfield tandem for the Bulldogs this fall.
“You’ve always got to have at least two running backs, especially in this league we’re in,” Fayetteville offensive coordinator Zak Clark said. “And we feel pretty good about our guys there.”
Cook (5-foot-9, 200 pounds) has battled numerous injuries himself in his career, including a torn ACL prior to his sophomore season. But as a junior, he actually led Fayetteville with 100 carries and 437 yards to go along with six touchdowns.
“Braydon Cook played a lot last year. He’s been banged up in his career, and he’s had a couple of injuries, but we need to keep him healthy,” Clark said. “He’s our most versatile back. He’s got good leverage, a low center of gravity. He’s a big kid and a strong kid.
“Braydon can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can pass protect and he can do everything we’re going to ask him to do.”
Tyson (6-1, 190) spent much of last season on defense but could emerge as one of Fayetteville’s top home run threats out of backfield.
“Terrell Tyson, when he does it right, he’s as good as we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Clark said. “He’s got a gear that not many have. He’s a physical kid when he sees the hole, and he’s got an acceleration that is impressive. And he is getting better the more experience he gets.
“He’s becoming more versatile. He’s a threat catching the ball, and that’s something we ask our tailbacks to do is catch the ball and be a threat. And he certainly is.”
The mix of power from Cook and speed from Tyson could make for a perfect complement for Fayetteville.
“I feel like me and Terrell will be sharing the reps pretty evenly,” Cook said. “It will depend on what type of run it is, whether it’s inside or outside, zone or power or something like that.
“We can both do a lot of different things. Terrell can also run really hard, and the defenses don’t know what it coming.”
Tommy Coker (5-10, 180) also returns at fullback, and Jase Rapert (5-11, 195) can play the position as well.
“Tommy is our returning fullback, and he’s certainly solid,” Clark said. “We know what we’re getting in Tommy. And when Tommy gets some work on defense, Jase Rapert is our fullback, and he’s one of the most important pieces of our offense right now.”
Fayetteville also can turn to sophomores Rashad Brown (5-9, 185), Javonte Smith (5-10, 185) and Luke Rapert (5-11, 180) for extra help at tailback, if needed.
“We’ve got a few young backs that are physically ready to play right now,” Clark said. “Mentally they’re not ready to be the feature back, but if something happens, they’re going to be fine.”
Print Headline: Bulldogs Have Options