The 2018 Sam Houston State Bearkat football season is nearly upon us, with Coach K.C. Keeler’s group set to open up the year on September 8 vs Prairie View at Bowers Stadium.
This is the seventh of an eight-part preview, position by position of this year’s squad, leading up to the 2018 season opener.
HUNTSVILLE – The Bearkats’ offense has lit up the scoreboard under head coach K.C. Keeler, but the absurd numbers they have produced on that side of the ball have not all been through the air.
Sam Houston has led the FCS in scoring and total offense in recent years, but a large part of that has come from a running game that has still averaged 175 yards per game during the last two years. This season Keeler and his staff will have the task of replacing Corey Avery, the program’s second all-time leading rusher, but a plethora of capable backs who will all get carries.
The stable of backs includes seniors Remus Bulmer and sophomore Kyran Jackson who both got carries last year, while JaColbie Butler will make the switch from defense to offense for 2018. Add in electric freshmen Alex and Donovan Williams and the Kats will feature five backs who should all make an impact in 2018.
Bulmer enters the year with the most time in the Bearkat backfield, totaling 1,998 yards and a dozen touchdowns in his first three seasons. He was a second team all-SLC choice in 2016 and rushed for over 700 yards with three scores as a junior.
“We lost Corey (Avery), but Remus has had a really good career for us,” Keeler said. “We thought Kyran Jackson had an electric spring and made us think that he could really be special. We really love the two freshmen we brought in, and we think the guy that nobody is talking about is JaColbie Butler.”
Butler joined the Kats last season after two years at UTSA and saw time on the defensive side of the ball, but was recruited by the Bearkats out of Pearland High School as a running back and Keeler’s staff decided to return him to the backfield in the spring. According to the coaches, he was impressive in that stint and looked like the back who rushed for over 2,500 yards and 37 touchdowns in his final two years at PHS.
Meanwhile, Jackson did not get on the field for the Kats until midway through his true freshman season but played in seven of the final nine games of 2017. He brings a home run threat to the backfield and showed flashes of that ability last season, rushing for 50 yards against UIW and for 47 against Lamar.
Both Alex and Donovan Williams should make an impact as well, with Donovan Williams being the early frontrunner to get carries in short-yardage situations. At 6-0, 200 pounds he is the biggest of the backfield options and was one of the prizes of the Kats’ recruiting class. While at Paris High School he rushed for over 4,000 yards and 47 scores, earning all-state honors.
“Donovan (Williams) is the bigger back of all these guys, but Butler is just a hard runner. It’s going to be interesting to see who we go with in those short-yardage situations,” Keeler said. “The real impact on our offense is going to be the fact that we have three very athletic quarterbacks. We can run a little bit different package than we did last year because we were a little bit limited. Now we have three guys who we can get on the edge, run bootleg and who can run belly-read or option and those kind of things. I think it gives Ryan (Carty) a lot of versatility in his play selection. Especially in short-yardage and in the red zone.”
Alex Williams was also a big sign for the Kats out of Pasadena Memorial, and brings the ability to not only run out of the backfield, but to make an impact in the pass game. An electric player in high school, the 5-11 Williams rushed for over 3,200 yards and scored 42 times at Pasadena Memorial.