Fresh horses:

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Despite loss of Carter, Troy State has strong depth in offensive backfield


Sports Editor

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Preseason scrimmage at Memorial Stadium just won’t be the same this year without Demontray Carter returning a kick for a touchdown.

Or catching a pass for a touchdown.

Or breaking a long run for a touchdown.

Carter, the Trojans all-purpose runner, pass catcher and kick return man has graduated, leaving head coach Larry Blakeney and offensive coordinator John Shannon three options at the tailback position; LeBarron Black, DeWhitt Betterson and Jermaine Richardson.

But can either of those players hope to make up for the loss of Carter, who – at moments during scrimmages last season – appeared to be a step above anything TSU defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt could devise to stop him?

Both Shannon and Blakeney are optimistic that the trio can.

"Last year, we had one guy who was a good football player for us at the running back position," said Shannon. "This year, we have three. Each one gives us a different style of play and different strengths."

Although Black goes into August as the penciled-in starter, he and Betterson should see equal playing time once the season begins. Black, the fifth-year senior, brings a 5-foot-10, 215-pound package to the field, but has yet to put together a season like the one he had in 1999, when he was the Trojans’ second leading rusher, finishing the year with 540 yards. In 2000, possibly because of the emergence of Carter, Black’s numbers fell to 392. Last season, with Shannon looking to take advantage of Carter’s gamebreaker ability, Black rushed for only 151 yards on 63 carries.

TSU running backs coach Mike Turk is confident in Black’s ability.

"LeBarron is a hard-nosed runner who understands the game and brings a great work ethic and mentality to the field each day," said Turk. "He will give you his best and get the job done."

As high as Turk is on Black, Betterson brings something that’s been lacking at Troy State the last two years; consistency running between the tackles.

"DeWhitt Betterson may be the best thing to ever come out of Troy State by the time his career his through," noted Blakeney.

Betterson hails from Starke, Fla., where he totalled 3,041 yards in two-years at Bradford County High School. He earned the Class 4A Player of the Year award.

Redshirted in 2000, Betterson finished second in rushing yards as a back-up to both Black and Carter last season. The 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore rushed for 283 yards, including a nine-carry, 96-yard effort against top-ranked Miami on Oct. 6. Betterson’s lone touchdown came in the Trojans’ 21-3 win over Jacksonville State, when he scored on a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Richardson hails from the same high school (Pensacola) as Carter and possesses similar attributes. The Florida native came to TSU as a partial qualifier in 2000 and then waited out a redshirt year last season.

The only thing he’s lacking is experience, which Blakeney said would come with time.

"I feel good about our backfield," Blakeney said. "We are as deep as we have been in awhile."

Adrian Moore was a tight end when a knee injury, suffered during the offseason, caused him to seek a medical redshirt last year. Now Moore has been moved to fullback, where his hands and blocking ability have become an immediate asset to the Trojan Spread.

Shannon said Moore’s play, as well as that of back-up fullback Chris Cox, is critical to the success of the offense. Shannon expects Moore to adapt to the move well.

"As the year goes along, and Adrian grows into the position, we will expect him to do a lot of things for us," said Shannon.

This is the second of a multi-part series, breaking down the Trojans position-by-position prior to fall practice.