A backfield featuring the 2018 First Team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference running back and the preseason First-Team All SWAC running back should give the Golden Lions something to look forward to when it comes to ground production.
Last season, UAPB finished as the 4th best rushing team in the SWAC.
Junior running back Taeylor Porter led with 1,220 rushing yards on 226 carries while recording 9 touchdowns. Porter's season-long was an 86-yard touchdown run. Porter came in as a junior college mid-year transfer last season, and he simply took advantage of the opportunity he had at hand, according to UAPB Head Coach Cedric Thomas.
After a few nagging ankle injuries, and from being banged and bruised throughout last season, Thomas and his staff have decided to dial Porter's workload down as they'll definitely need him healthy in the fall.
"Just getting healthy, he had some ankle injuries last year," Thomas said. "Just trying to keep him healthy is a main goal. He took a lot of snaps last year. We want him to work on protection and everyday fundamentals at this point."
Red-shirt senior running back KeShawn Williams, a Pine Bluff Dollarway native, sat out the entire 2018 season as he had to go through the process of recovering fully from a ligament tear in his knee.
In 2017 as a junior, Williams had 698 rushing yards on 126 carries while recording 32 catches for 327 yards. In total, Williams recorded seven touchdowns in 2017. Now Williams is back in the stable.
"It's a great 1-2 punch, we're in a good situation at that spot," Thomas said. "When one has to sit out for being banged up there won't be a drop off. We expect to have the best backfield in the conference. With KeShawn, we to take it one day at a time, and we're not going to rush. We'll gradually increase his workload through the spring and summer and make sure he's ready August 31."
The two young bucks who are on campus for the spring football season are freshmen Omar Allen, from Watson Chapel High, and Tavion Turner.
"Omar had a great scrimmage, and he busted some bigs runs," Thomas said. "You can see the acceleration. He doesn't dance, and he hits the football downhill. He did a good job of finishing runs as well. His big thing is that he's undersized, so teams will try to blitz him ... he has to be able to protect. Tavion is a bigger back that doesn't have that home-run speed, but he's a grinder. It's good to have these two young guys coming in and mixing it up for that third running back spot."