From All-American to committee

By Gus Bode

The Saluki backfield has produced All-Americans, Canadian Football League standouts and Super Bowl champions.

But after a decade that brought the great running backs Tom Koutos, Arkee Whitlock, Muhammad Abdulqaadir, Larry Warner and New York Giants starting running back Brandon Jacobs, the Salukis must find a way to fill the void.

While it will not be an easy task, running backs coach Steve Crutchley said he believes the running backs are ready to work together to continue the string of great backfields.


‘Anytime you replace a great player like Warner, obviously you’re not expecting the new guys to match that production. However, we have enough depth right now in the running backs to hold our own,’ Crutchley said.

Crutchley said the team would operate with a backfield-by-committee approach. The idea is to use each running back in different situations to better utilize their different running styles, he said.

The two running backs expected to see the most playing time are junior Richard White and redshirt senior Deji Karim.

White saw action in 11 games last season, finishing third on the team with 343 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Karim rushed for 386 yards and a team-high eight rushing touchdowns in 2007, but was redshirted last season after a partial patella tendon tear in his right knee.

‘White and Karim are both backs who could make a big impact on our team this season; we have full trust in them,’ Crutchley said.

Other backs that look to crack into the committee are redshirt freshman Anton Wilkins, redshirt senior Jonate Govan and redshirt junior Lucien Walker.

Wilkins has impressed the coaches during spring and fall camp, Crutchley said, while Govan looks to rebound from an injury-ridden career at SIU. Walker will line up at the fullback position.


While they may not be the next Jacobs, Warner or Whitlock, head coach Dale Lennon said he believes they can still make an impact on the offense this season.

‘Losing a player of the caliber of Warner is tough, but I like what I’ve seen with the backs in camp,’ Lennon said. ‘We’ll keep looking at film, but as of now I have faith in our committee to make an impact.’