Junior running back Wendell Smallwood finished his 2015 campaign with 1,519 rushing yards, the best in the Big 12 Conference by 27 yards. His 6.4 yards per attempt was also ranked 22nd in the nation to go with his 116.8 yards per game average which was good enough for 15th nationally.
Look back at this run on 3rd and 22 and tell me how HUGE this was. Led to winning score pic.twitter.com/MnjtjNP1Ty
— BlueGoldSports.com (@Blue_GoldSports) January 3, 2016
Smallwood announced just two weeks ago that he would test the waters to see where he would stand in the 2016 NFL draft. NFLDraftScout.com has Smallwood the 18th ranked running back prospect in the upcoming draft.
Smallwood is only the fourth Mountaineer running back since 1996 to rush for over 1,500 yards in a season joining Amos Zereoue in ’97, Avon Cobourne in ’02, and Steve Slaton in ’06.
Further, Smallwood’s 6.4 yards per carry average is only second to Slaton’s 7.0 average in 2006. We should note that Pat White averaged 6.8 yards per carry in 2007.
If Smallwood were to stay one more season he would undoubtedly be one of the top returning backs in the nation. The question though may be how Smallwood would be utilized in that final season.
If Holgorsen resorts back to his patented pass first offense Smallwood’s production will undoubtedly drop. Rushel Shell has also filed paperwork for the NFL. But if he is to return next season Smallwood will again share carries with him. Smallwood’s stock may be as high as it is going to get.
Players have until mid-January to officially declare for the draft. And although Smallwood’s projected draft status may not be as high as he would like it may be the best he will see depending on next season’s offense scheme. Smallwood is only the second player to rush for over 1,000 under Holgorsen at WVU. That other play is Charles Sims who is currently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.