The “100 Days to Kickoff” series continues this week with a look at a few players who will be crucial to the team’s success in 2017. This particular feature began a few years ago and was inspired by the NCAA Football video game series, in which each team would have one or two “impact players” on offense and defense based on talent, production, and big-play ability. In that same vein, this series of articles will look at players who are both talented and likely to put up big numbers this fall.
B-back Dedrick Mills
Last season, Dedrick Mills came in with pretty lofty expectations. The crazy thing is that he exceeded every single one of them. For the first time that I can remember under CPJ, a B-back came in as a true freshman, and not only got good playing time, but was the full-fledged starter for the entire season, even beating out the previous season’s leading rusher in Marcus Marshall. Now that he is coming into his sophomore season, and Marshall has transferred out, the door will be open for Mills’ production to grow significantly, so let’s take a look at him.
Mills is easily one of the most impressive freshmen to ever play for CPJ on the Flats. He came in and took a starting spot from a very talented B-back in Marcus Marshall. And then, despite only playing in nine games, he led the team in rushing yards (771) while also adding 13 total touchdowns (also a team-high). In short, Mills was good. Very good.
2016 Stats: 152 carries, 771 yards (5.1 yards/carry), 12 touchdowns, two receptions, 13 yards, one touchdown
While he’s not the fastest back in the world, Mills is still a very formidable B-back. In the highlights above, we see what makes Mills such a tough runner: he is so dang tough to bring down. We see multiple times that it takes more than one hit to bring him down. My personal favorite clip in here happens at the 1:24 mark. Mills looks like he’s gone down, but he actually catches himself, gets back up, and then proceeds to run for another 35 yards. That’s the kind of stuff you want to see in a B-back.
As mentioned above, Marcus Marshall has departed the team, leaving Mills as the only B-back with semi-extensive experience. That means that CPJ is going to be relying heavily on him, though other backs, like KirVonte Benson and Quaide Weimerskirch will also likely break into the rotation. So Mills is going to be THE guy. No more 1A/1B stuff. It’s going to be the Mills show, which can be a good or a bad thing.
It’ll be good in the sense that Mills is a phenomenal back that is more than capable of carrying the load for the season. It’ll be bad, though, because teams are starting to realize how good he is, and with quarterback also a bit of a question mark right now, Mills will be the guy that a lot of teams will key in on early in the season.
If I had to predict what Mills’ sophomore season is going to look like, I tend to take an optimistic outlook and say that Mills will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. With him being the main focuses of defensive coordinators early on, though, he’s going to have to fight hard for it. A lot of his production could also be dependent on our quarterback situation. If we find another talented quarterback to lead the team, it gives Tech one more option (pun fully intended) on the table.
It’s your turn now. How do you think Mills were perform this year? Will he be able to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?
Days to Kickoff: 90 Days