The University of Central Oklahoma football team is almost a week into camp, gearing up for the steadily approaching 2019 season. The Bronchos host Pittsburg State in Week 1 on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. inside Wantland Stadium.
"We are excited about the talent level in this group, but experience will be key," Eighth-year head football coach Nick Bobeck said. "There are a few different guys who can step up and earn reps and once the games start, we'll see who can do it the best. But there's a different talent level in the backfield that is going to help us this season."
UCO returns 39 lettermen from last year's squad and on offense alone, has 10 back that started at least five games last season. However, Central has a glaring spot on its list of returners – or a lack thereof – on offense, and that's the running back position.
Saboor Daniels and his 71 yards rushing last season is the most of any returning running back, though quarterbacks Chandler Garrett, Will Collins, and Keats Calhoon did have a combined 600+ yards on the ground last season from their respective position. Daniels will get a chance to earn more reps this fall, but UCO will have some new faces carrying the load.
T.J. Roberts and Payton Scott both had a solid spring and will likely be surging through the line for the Bronchos the most. Roberts is a junior college transfer who amassed over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns in two seasons at Mesa College. Scott, a former Oklahoma High School Gatorade Player of the Year, sat out last season during a redshirt year and is ready to jump in the mix and become a key contributor for the Bronchos this fall. He had over 2,500 yards and 33 touchdowns during his senior season at Sand Springs in 2017.
Another newcomer, Taj Griffin, arrived on campus just days before fall camp, but is prepared to enter the mix and add another talented element to the Broncho backfield. Griffin spent the past four seasons at Oregon. He was granted a fifth year by the NCAA just last week after only appearing in three games in 2018. Griffin tallied 879 yards on 138 carries at Oregon, scoring six touchdowns in the run game. He also had 408 yards receiving on 30 catches, including an 83-yard touchdown reception last season, and scored four times catching the ball out of the backfield.
The depth UCO has at the position with the afore mentioned continues down the roster. Tucker Pawley is another redshirt freshman who is ready for an opportunity and is working closer to that with every practice. Will Phillips, a true freshman, is doing the same. And Tyriq French, who also sat out last season as a redshirt after transferring from junior college, is the biggest back in the group and is capable of making a highlight play at any moment.