Jones tops depth chart at running back as position remains ‘competitive’

Photo by Emily DeShazer | The Collegian Charles Jones, sophomore running back, motions to take the ball from quarterback Jake Waters at the spring game on April 26, 2014. Jones was announced as starter over senior DeMarcus Robinson for the Wildcats' opening game on Saturday against Stephen F. Austin.

With only three days remaining until Saturday night’s season opener, head coach Bill Snyder has made a decision at running back — for now.

Sophomore running back Charles Jones was announced as the starter ahead of Saturday’s home contest against Stephen F. Austin. Jones beat out senior running back DeMarcus Robinson, who was originally expected to earn the top spot, and highly-touted freshman running back Dalvin Warmack, who Snyder said will likely be a redshirt.

Snyder said nothing is “written in stone,” however, and that Saturday’s starter could change in the next couple of days as the Wildcats continue to prepare for the Lumberjacks.

“Whether or not it holds true remains to be seen,” Snyder said. “It is not set in stone right now. It is still competitive and will remain competitive throughout the course of the week. There is today and tomorrow. If there is a change we will identify that. Like I said, it is not written in stone.”

Jones has yet to carry the ball for the Wildcats in his two years with the program. The Mandeville, Louisiana native redshirted in 2012, after rushing for 1,767 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior in high school. In 2013, Jones was available but did not see any game action as former running backs John Hubert and Robert Rose solidified themselves as the choice backs for the Wildcats.

Despite the lack of experience, Snyder said Jones has continued to commit himself to the program, something K-State preaches as “getting better every day.” Jones has also improved as an all-around option at running back, according to his head coach.

“He’s one of those young guys where I’ve seen improvement come,” Snyder said. “It’s important for our backs to be versatile and be able to handle all aspects of the game; to be able to run the ball well with some explosiveness and to be able to block well and be active in the passing game as a receiver. I think he’s made improvements in all three of those areas. DeMarcus is in contention as well for that. DeMarcus has made improvements in those areas as well. They are getting better at being multifaceted running backs.”

Snyder admitted Tuesday that he would rather stick to the one-running back system that Hubert succeeded under, but that fans should expect to see Jones and Robinson split carries. The 74-year-old head coach also noted that sophomore running back Jarvis Leverett, Jr. will be in the mix to contribute.

For now, though, Jones said he is more than happy to be named the starter, and he is certainly aware of the talent behind him.

“I guess I proved that I was the most versatile back,” Jones said. “It was a hard fight through camp. I still think Robinson and I are going to get a lot of carries and Jarvis with some carries also. Even though they said I was the starter, we still have three strong running backs.”

The depth at running back has the potential to boost the Wildcats’ success on the ground and help reinforce the idea of bettering oneself day in and day out.

“We’re brothers and everything,” Jones said of his teammates. “We critique each other. If we didn’t help each other it would hurt a lot, because I need people to critique me. They might see something that the coaches might not see and so that helps us.”

The critiquing and hard work will pay off Saturday when Jones runs out in front of a sea of purple (upwards of 50,000 people) knowing that he will be a part of K-State’s potential success in 2014.

“I’m really excited,” Jones said. “It’s been two years since I’ve been in a real game situation. Nerves are coming in, but I’m really excited.”

Update: The opponent’s name was incorrectly stated in the photo caption. K-State will be playing Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, August 30, 2014.