Photo by John Raoux- The Associated Press
The Virginia Tech Hokies may have lost to the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Camping World Bowl on Thursday 30-21. Hopefully, they don’t treat it as a loss and treat the game as a lesson. One of the many lessons of the 60 minute battle stared redshirt sophomore running Deshawn McClease. His game may have answered a question in the committee of running backs Tech has. McClease had a breakout game against the Cowboys, rushing for 124 yards on 18 carries: an average of 6.9 yards a carry. That’s a feat no Hokie back has accomplished all season.
Now, his performance could be downplayed by saying he was playing against a “Big 12″ defense, the offensive line blocked really good, and that it was his first 100 yard game ever. All of those statements may be true, but the skills that he showcased were enough for me to believe. He ran with purpose and didn’t want to go down. He made multiple defenders miss by either juking them out, cutting back to the edge, spinning around them, slicing back through the middle, or just simply running straight through them. I don’t think you could beat a defender another way.
McClease is only a 5’9”, 190 pounds, but he proved that he can run it up the middle and run the through his opposing foes. Hopefully he carries the success into the offseason and goes into the strength and conditioning sessions confident about his game and with something to prove. That is showing he can be the number one back consistently and to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Tech hasn’t had a reliable back since David Wilson. I trust his running style and heart enough for him to be that guy Tech needs.
It should also be noted that Coach Justin Fuente likes to ride the hot hand that is usually either between McClease, Steven Peoples and Jalen Holtson. I’m a big fan of Peoples and his big, strong running style, and it will be a battle next fall for the starting spot, but there really is no starter. If McClease can keep running like he has, it won’t be hard to figure out which back they’ll be rocking with.