After losing his confidence and getting replaced by Gartrell Johnson in the fall, Kyle Bell appears close to regaining his starting running back position thanks to what coaches are calling an extremely strong spring.
Bell came back from an ACL tear last fall to average 30 carries in the Rams’ first three games. But the senior went on to average just nine attempts in the team’s last nine games. Once Johnson took over, the senior from Miami, Fla., was surprisingly and extremely effective, averaging 126 yards in seven games as a starter.
“Just watching them, you’d probably think Bell’s probably leading and Gartrell’s probably a close second,” offensive coordinator Greg Peterson said after a windy scrimmage last Saturday at Hughes Stadium. “If one guy is 1A, then the other guy is 1B. Mike Myers is in there, (John) Mosure (too). Throw them in a hat and let’s get them on the field. I don’t know if we have a true-cut number 1, but Kyle’s had a really good spring and been the most consistent.”
Running backs coach Anthony Hill said he needs to look at the players on film to decide who he thinks deserves the staring spot.
“(Bell)’s had a damn good spring, but I’m not ready to say that (he’s the starter) yet,” he said. “I need to look at the tape and see how everyone did.”
Complicating things further on Saturday was junior halfback Alex Square. The Fort Collins High product carried the ball five times for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Square’s second score, a 50-yard spurt that included a Barry Sanders-esque spin move, was the play of the day.
“I was just happy to find some open space,” Square said. “I just got the ball and did what I do best. I’m praising God for it. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion, it’s just fun to actually get in the end zone again. The last time I was in the end zone was high school, so it’s been awhile.”
Square’s play earned him kudos from coach Hill afterward.
“That was very nice. I told him that was a nice spin move,” Hill said. “He’s so balanced on that. Not everybody can do that spin move. A lot of guys will shake and juke and do all that, but that spin move is priceless, that’s really nice.”
Other highlights of Saturday’s scrimmage included an emotional defensive stop on third down to break a 33-all tie with the offense, Billy Farris’ continued development as the favorite to be the starting quarterback (6 for 7, 50 yards) and the performance by Cameron Burl, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound freshman wide receiver who had three catches for a team-high 36 yards.
After practice, coach Fairchild echoed the mantra he has stuck to the entire spring camp – it’s a starting point, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“We are improving, but we got a long way to go,” Fairchild said.
The Rams will finish their spring camp this week with practices on Tuesday and Thursday on the practice fields south of Moby. The team will hold their annual spring scrimmage at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Hughes Stadium. Fans are welcome to attend all practices and scrimmages.
Sports Editor Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.