New Hampshire Football Report

UNH has depth in the backfield

DURHAM – Senior Trevon Bryant gets his long-awaited shot at running back in the fall. Junior Evan Gray made the most of his opportunity last season and returns to the backfield.

Those two veterans lead a four-man pack at the top of the depth chart at running back for the 2018 University of New Hampshire football team.

“The good thing is we have different guys to do different situations,” said UNH assistant coach Casey DeAndrade, who is working with the running backs. “We have four guys who are different sizes and strengths and hopefully we can pick their strengths and put them in the best opportunities to make plays.”

Junior Brandon Gallagher and redshirt freshman Carlos Washington, Jr. fill out the rest of the group.

The running backs and the rest of the Wildcats this week are at the midway point of spring practice that wraps up with the annual Blue-White spring game May 5 at 11 a.m.

UNH opens the 2018 season with a game at Maine on Aug. 30.  The first of the season’s six home games in Wildcat Stadium is scheduled for Sept. 8 against Colgate.

Bryant, 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, was expected to be one of the team’s leading ball carriers last season with Dalton Crossan graduated. But he suffered a knee injury about midway through the spring that knocked him out for the season.

He was a senior and was elected captain at the end of the spring. Because he had played as a true freshman, Bryant was able to get a medical redshirt, making him eligible for the coming season. He continues to rehab his knee and is playing a limited role this spring and will be ready to go in the fall.

“Mentally and emotionally he’s been our leader,” DeAndrade said. “I think he was a great leader last year as a captain. This year in the offseason and now in spring ball he’s been such a great leader. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve seen since I’ve been here. We’re taking the right steps to get him back to what he was, a great player. Last year was supposed to be his year. Stuff happens for a reason. He’s set himself up to have a really good season this year.”

As a junior, Bryant averaged six yards a carry – 82 carriers for 496 yards –  and scored five touchdowns. He had 60 carries for 297 yards (4.9 per carry) and another two scores as a sophomore.

Gray, 5-foot-10 and 228 pounds, rushed for 650 yards (3.6 yards a carry) and scored eight of UNH’s 12 rushing touchdowns last season. He also caught 20 passes for 135 yards and a score.

“Evan had a great year for us,” DeAndrade said. “He was the real deal when it comes to running backs in the CAA. He does everything. He catches the ball well. He runs the ball well. He ran through some people when he had to, but he can also make people miss. I think he’s going to take the next step in the program, which he has in the weight room, and we’re expecting big things out of Evan. . . . He has all the potential to be one of the best in the league.”

Gallagher, 5-foot-10 and 194, averaged 5.9 yards per carry and had a breakout game against Towson with 12 carries for 104 yards.

“He ran hard,” DeAndrade said. “Towards the end of the year on special teams he was the returner and throughout the year he was helping on special team. He knows his role and plays it really well and I would expect his role to even expand more coming up.”

Washington, 5-10 and 206, played on scout teams last year and has drawn praise from head coach Sean McDonnell during the spring.

“We’re really excited about Carlos,” DeAndrade said. “Right now I’d say he’s probably having the best spring of the running backs just because of the amount of touches he’s getting. We’ve got to slow him down a little bit here and there. He’s still not where Evan and Trevon are in the playbook because they’ve been here so long. When push comes to shove, he’s going to be really great and I think he’s going to help us a lot this year.”

As for DeAndrade, he was a standout at defensive back for the Wildcats before wrapping up his career with the 2016 season and is now getting a look at the offensive side of the ball.

“It’s a little different, cheering for the guys at practice with white shirts on instead of blue,” DeAndrade said. “I still get a hard time from most of the defensive guys for being on the other side. It’s a little different for me. I think it’s a good thing for me to be able to learn the other side of the ball and use that stuff in a positive way. So it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying it.”

Allen Lessels is the UNH Insider. This is one in a series of stories he will be posting this spring about position groups on the UNH football team.

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