Temple Football Running Backs Preview

Written by: Cayden Steele

Temple University football might have their next great running back. Sophomore running back Re’Mahn Davis exceeded expectations as a freshman and now is the lead back of a very deep running back room. 

Davis was very productive in 2019, the 5’9 running back ran for an impressive 936 yards and eight touchdowns. He was seventh among American Athletic Conference running backs and fifth in the FBS among freshmen in rushing yards. 

After only one year, Davis’ production put him alongside all-time great Temple running backs. He only trailed former third-round pick and Raven Bernard Pierce in every-single freshman rushing category.

Entering the season, Davis knows he must improve some aspects of his game. Great running backs are expected to do every little thing on the field. 

“You have to be able to be a three down back, you have to be able to pass block and catch and you have to be able to run,” Davis said. “I think right now I have one of three down and I just need to get better.” 

Davis is now entering his second-year in the program, the experiences from last year have helped him become more proactive and composed, running backs coach Gabe Infante said.

Davis is ready to become the leader of the group with Jager Gardner graduating this past spring. 

“He’s the man of the house, the elder statesman,” Infante said. “ I think he understands that he has to do more and set the example.”

Davis is not the only running back on the Owls with potential, they have a mix of powerful and explosive players. 

Here’s an overview of the rest of the group who could receive touches. 

Tayvon Ruley

Ruley, a redshirt-senior, started his post-high school career at Valley Forge Military Academy & College in Wayne, Pennsylvania. 

In his first season with the Owls, Ruley gained 127 yards and scored one touchdown. He saw his role increase towards the end of the season, especially after Jager Gardner was sidelined with a season-ending injury.

Ruley’s best game from 2019 came against the University of Connecticut, the 6’0 running back ran for 74 yards and scored his first career touchdown with the Owls. 

Ruley has a chip on his shoulder, he wasn’t highly sought after in high school and spent 2017-2018 at prep school before he finally received an opportunity at the FBS level.

This year he’s trying to prove why he should have been more recruited. 

“This year is going to be the statement year and show everybody what I can do,” Ruley said. 

With a second-year in the program, he feels more comfortable and confident. The next step for him is to take on a leadership role on and off the field. 

“ On the field I’m going to be more of a vocal leader, try to talk more to my teammates and position group,” Ruley said. “ Off the field I want to also be more of a leader to the guys around me by showing them the right path and telling them the right things.” 

Ruley announced at the end of the presser that he will be returning for an extra season in 2021. 

Edward Saydee 

Saydee, a redshirt-freshman, only played in four games and rushed for two yards last season, but his role for 2020 might increase.

Saydee was praised by coach Infante at Friday’s presser, his football smarts and versatility will help him find playing time. 

“He’s just got an ability to absorb a lot of the stuff we are doing and we do a lot of stuff with the backs,” Infante said. “ He’s really reliable and he’s really able to do a lot of different things for us.” 

There has been some competition in the running back group during fall camp, Saydee is directly competing for snaps with Ruley, Infante said. 

The 5’11 running back has also been standing out on special teams and that’s caught the attention of his running backs coach. 

“He’s dominating on special teams right now, I’m pretty sure he’s starting on three of the four units,” Infante said. 

Entering the 2020 season, Saydee will have a more prominent role and staying consistent is key for his success.

“When I get a chance to get in and show out I have to,” Saydee said. “ I have to play every single snap and every single down I have to be great.” 

Onasis Neely 

Neely, a redshirt-freshman, didn’t play in a single-game last year but his size brings a different element to the running game.

He’s 6’0 and 225 pounds, outweighing everyone in the group. His strength and power will give the Owls an advantage in short-yardage situations.

“I think he’s going to help us between the tackles,” Infante said. “ I’m hoping to see him really develop into a really good pass protection back for us, a good third down back that can give us some tough yards.” 

Neely is coming off an injury, but he is now ready to contribute to the offense. 

“I do feel more comfortable in offense and when I went down it was a lot of mental reps,” Neely said. “ I feel like that helped me with just hoping right in and going with the flow.” 

Kyle Dobbins 

Dobbins, a redshirt sophomore, was a two-time all-state player at Timber Creek High in Sicklerville, New Jersey. 

It’s been a slow start for Dobbins who was a highly recruited player in high school, as a freshman he redshirted and last season he was sidelined with injury. 

Dobbins still brings value to the team, football is all about speed and he has the ability to score every-single time he touches the ball. 

“When you think about homerun hitters, Kyle has to be in that conversation,” Infante said. “ In practice yesterday, he caught a ball and out ran everybody. He showed on film, like hey don’t forget about me.” 

Behind the scenes, Dobbins has been preparing for his number to get called and to be ready for that chance  he’s been doing everything in his power. 

“Watching film every night just prepares me mentally and preparing mentally helps you on the field,” Dobbins said. “ The more mental reps you get in practice, the better you get. I ask questions a lot, once my number is called I’ll be ready to step on that field.” 

Overall, the room provides a deep yet inexperienced group of guys with plenty to figure out. Behind Davis, it’s yet to be seen how the carries will be split this fall. 

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