After an injury to sophomore running back DeVion Moore in the season opener, true freshman Kendial Lawrence was thrust into a change of pace back role that most fans weren’t expecting him to be in this early. He rose to the challenge in his first game at the backup role, rushing the ball 7 times for 49 yards against Bowling Green.
“Well, Kendial did an excellent job. He’s a pretty mature guy, a little like Derrick was his freshman year,” head coach Gary Pinkel said in his press conference on Monday.
That’s not a bad comparison, considering Washington has already rushed for over 1,400 yards in his career at Mizzou entering his third season in the pass-heavy Tiger offense. The now veteran running back had nothing but positive things to say about his newest backup.
“[Kendial] is going to be a great player here at Missouri,” junior running back Derrick Washington said. “I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do this year.”
Lawrence showcased his talent in front of 65,000 gold-laden Mizzou fans on Saturday, taking a handoff and running it in for a touchdown from 30 yards out. Unfortunately for the freshman, the score was called back on a questionable penalty, but nevertheless, he made his presence known.
“You could see his confidence grow a little bit,” Pinkel said. “He’s got great quickness and change of direction. I think everybody sees that. Even if you don’t know anything about football you could figure that out.”
The rushing attack will no doubt become a larger part of the offensive attack for Mizzou in the coming years because of the amount of young talent they have. Derrick Washington is only a junior, while DeVion Moore is a sophomore while Lawrence is just a freshman. These three backs each bring something different to the table and it has shown in the first couple of games this year.
Because he is the youngest, Lawrence is the most intriguing of this bunch. His combination of quickness and excellent feel for running the ball was shown when he rushed for over 2,300 yards and 37 touchdowns in his senior season at Rockwall High School (TX). So far, it looks like he will have no problem transferring his skills to the college level.
“He’s got a great future here and he’s obviously going to be a huge help for us [this year],” Pinkel said.