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RB spots are up for grabs at Strasburg


By Jeremy Stafford - jstafford@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- The glaring issue for Strasburg coach Mark Roller this preseason has been finding replacements for departed running backs Bub McKelvey and Tanner Orndorff, who last season rushed for 845 and 711 yards, respectively.

Currently, there are four players vying for McKelvey's vacated tailback spot: junior Brad Hough, junior Billy Mann, sophomore Rakwon White and sophomore Todd Dean.

Mann is a transfer from Florida, and White is coming off a stellar season playing on Strasburg's freshman team, which went 6-1 last year.

As of yet, none of the four tailbacks have outperformed the others, and Roller said it's likely they will all share equal time at the position.

"We might just kinda platoon them and see where we can go from there," Roller said. "We might not have a 1,000-yard back, but we'll have four of them with 500 yards or whatever we need."

A similar position battle exists at fullback, where Orndorff once blossomed.

Tyler Jenkins, Cody Cooper -- both of whom are seniors -- and sophomore Darius Lozado could all spend time blocking for the young Rams tailbacks.

Strasburg does, however, return a wealth of experience throughout its offensive and defensive lines, a luxury considering Strasburg has been fairly inexperienced in the trenches the past couple seasons.

Shaping the defense has been an intricate process of mixing and matching, Roller said, but it should be nearing completion.

Senior quarterback Michael Reynolds will fill in at outside linebacker, solidifying him as a team leader on both sides of the ball.

Time at free safety, another position vacated by McKelvey, will likely be split between sophomore Troy Gordon and senior Sheldon Stickley. Stickley will also play at cornerback.

"Defensively we return some juniors that got a lot of playing time last year," Roller said. "A few seniors are back -- David Jodrie, Tyler Jenkins -- and with Sheldon [Stickley] and Tyler [Himelright] and Michael [Reynolds], they're all back.

"You add in a couple young guys, the defense should do pretty well."

And for the second consecutive year, Roller has plunged into Strasburg's foreign exchange program to find a place-kicker.

Last season Nika Kartvelishvili, an exchange student from Georgia, assumed kicking duties midway through the season.

This year the Rams will give Soren Nyang-Sorensen, who played a bit of football in Denmark, an opportunity to kick field goals and extra points. Because he's an experienced football player, Nyang-Sorensen will also see time at various other positions.

Todd Dean will punt for Strasburg.

Despite all the mismatching Roller's been doing this preseason, he at least knows where his leadership will come from, a quality he says will be the strength of this Rams team.

"The leadership [comes] not only from the seniors but the juniors," Roller said. "As far as strengths go, as a team, we return a lot of linemen -- we've got several juniors on the line, we've got several seniors on the line, so they have a year or two under their belt.

"With a young backfield, that is crucial."



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