With the departure of Wendell Smallwood, it looked like the WVU football team would have limited depth at running back in 2016. Freshman Kennedy McKoy is showing that he can be counted on early and often.
Throughout spring practice McKoy, a native of North Carolina, has been getting solid snaps and making the most of them. Donning No. 4, he already has big shoes to fill.
Smallwood, who left following his junior season, also wore No. 4.
McKoy already has a good build on him and looks more developed than a typical freshman. He is 6-foot, 200 pounds, plus he moves quicker than someone of that size. He showed ability to break tackles and gain yards after contact in spring practice and he went beyond that in the Spring Game on Saturday.
McKoy has demonstrated great breakaway speed and a knack for running between the tackles. The WVU offense has developed into a more balanced attack with running backs, which allowed Smallwood to become the Big 12’s leading rusher in 2015.
If the WVU football team plans to go that route this season, it will be in good hands with Rushel Shell taking a bulk of the carries and McKoy providing added depth.
McKoy passes the eye test almost immediately, but his teammates have been impressed with his studious attributes while he learns the plays, adapts to the schemes and bonds with new players.
"“Being here for five years, not many times do you have a freshman come in here and pick up the offense,” said offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky following the Spring Game in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. “Our offense is very simple, but you don’t pick it up that fast, especially a running back. He was able to do that, and Wendell was able to do that as well. Wendell played as a true freshman, and he has the same type of attitude. He comes in and works hard every day. That’s all you can ask for from a young kid.”"
In high school, McKoy rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2015. He finished his prep career with a record of 33-7 and was named the Davidson County Offensive Player of the Year.
It may take some time for him to garner those type of accolades at WVU, but McKoy could be next in line in terms of running back immortality – up there with the likes of Quincy Wilson, Amos Zereoue, Avon Cobourne, Steve Slaton, Noel Devine and even Smallwood.
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In the Spring Game, McKoy led the team with 57 yards on eight carries. Only Shell had more carries with nine. The senior found 50 yards on the ground.
McKoy also had the longest rush of the game, which was a 30-yard jaunt showing that breakaway speed.
All of the legends aforementioned at the running back position saw playing time as freshmen with the Mountaineers. If McKoy is to one day become as great as those guys, he’ll have to prove he can start right away.
His quick first impression shows that he can live up to the hype.