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APSU football: Williams core of deep running back group

APSU Athletics Communications

By Stefan Nolet

APSU Athletics Communications

Throughout fall camp, will take a look at each of the position groups as the Austin Peay State University football team goes through preparations for the 2019 season. Today, we’ll dive deeper into the running back position, which boasts some of the most productive returnees of any position group this season.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Kentel Williams took the OVC by storm in 2018 with his explosiveness in the running game, soft hands in the passing game and game-breaking ability on special teams.

Williams enters his senior season with tremendous momentum after being named FCS Third-Team All-America by the Associated Press as an all-purpose back last year. He also garnered STATS FCS Preseason Second-Team All-America honors as an athlete heading into this year.

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Williams put his explosiveness on display after leading the FCS in yards per carry last season, averaging 7.99 yards per rush. As an all-around player, he led the OVC in kickoff return yards (547) and all-purpose yards (1,510), and he finished third in the FCS in all-purpose yards per game (167.78).

“I think Kentel fits exactly what we want at running back in this offense,” running back coach Craig Candeto said. “Kentel has the chance to run it tough between the tackles, but you get him on the edge and it can be lights out because he has that speed. He really has great vision and great feel for the run game, and he has outstanding hands as well.”

While Williams is the hot name entering fall camp for the Governors, he will be pushed by two returning players who’ve had their own successes at Austin Peay. Junior Ahmaad Tanner led the Govs in rushing in 2017, racking up 698 yards and eight touchdowns en route to a spot on the OVC All-Newcomer Team. He finished 2018 as the Govs’ third-leading rusher with 339 yards.

Senior Prince Momodu found work last season as a short-yardage and goal line back, but also managed to emerge as a big-play threat, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He finished the season with 293 yards and five touchdowns.

“I feel comfortable with all three of those guys going into the football game,” Candeto said. “Those guys push each other, they support each other. The competition is there, but they’re brothers and they want each other to do well.”

As for newcomers, freshman Lelan Wilhoite has put together solid reps during the first few practices of fall camp. After initially practicing with the defensive backs in the spring, Wilhoite transitioned back to running back. It’s a natural home for the Murfreesboro product who rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns as a high school senior.

“Lelan is dynamic with the football in his hand,” Candeto said. “The great thing about Lelan is he is really willing to learn. That’s going to be the biggest thing is just him learning what he’s supposed to do because he hasn’t been at the position long and there are a lot of ins and outs to it from a timing standpoint.

“Then we have some other guys behind him. Jariel Wilson is guy down the road I think is going to be a pretty good player for us. Armond Carter Jr. is a walk on who comes to work every day and does what he’s supposed to and knows his assignments. I just enjoy being around those guys.”

2019 Returnees / 2018 Statistics
Prince Momodu (Sr.) / 48 carries, 293 yards, 5 TDs – 3 receptions, 17 yards
Ahmaad Tanner (Jr.) / 76 carries, 339 yards, 1 TD – 4 receptions, 92 yards
Kentel Williams (Sr.) / 104 carries, 831 yards, 7 TDs – 17 receptions, 127 yards, 1 TD

2019 Newcomers
Armond Carter Jr. (Sr.)
Lelan Wilhoite (Fr.)
Jariel Wilson (Fr.)

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