VIDEO: Mike Clowney Interview
Who joins Antonio Wimbush (Kingland, Ga.) has one of Carson-Newman's feature backs remains to be seen.
Wimbush has already scored 20 touchdowns in his C-N career, and, given the current pace, could end up in the top five all-time at C-N for the stat.
"He's a guy who's been quite about what he's done on the field," Clowney said. "It's time for him to make that transition to a guy who's been there and done that and can set an example for others to follow."
Wimbush piled up 941 yards rushing and nine touchdowns to lead the Eagles' veer-option attack last year. The then sophomore tallied four 100-yard rushing performances on the year, including a career best 148 yards in the opener against Humboldt State. Wimbush closed the season with three straight 100-yard games against Limestone (10/29), North Greenville (11/5) and Tusculum (11/12).
He tallied multi-TD efforts against Catawba (9/17), Mars Hill (9/24) and Limestone. Wimbush was also prolific through the air, catching 20 passes for 257 yards and a score. He was the Eagles third leading receiver. He caught his only touchdown pass of the season against North Greenville. He also completed 2-of-3 passes for 98 yards, including a 75-yarder for a score agaisnt Newberry. Wimbush made 11 plays of 20 yards or longer, the second most on the team.
In the offseason, he pushed his max bench press past 400 pounds.
"Antonio is the full package," Clowney said. "He's going to give you everything he's got regardless of what he's doing. That's what's given him the opportunity that he's got now to be the guy."
Now, for the guy who lines up next to him. Jared Dillingham (Central, S.C.), Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.), Demitri Saulsberry (Saint Mary's, Ga.) and Thomas Gibbs (Cincinnati, Ohio) all saw action last season and will compete for the other starting spot.
"These guys see that it's their opportunity and time to step up and play," Clowney said. "Jared and Marcus are both guys that have the tools, the question is that are they going to turn that corner to be the guy to push to be the guy. We think that can happen, but ultimately it's up to them to make it happen."
Dillingham appeared in all 11 games with one start en route to being Carson-Newman's fourth leading rusher. Dillingham carried the ball 41 times for 212 yards and a score. He averaged 5.2 yards per rush and nearly 20 yards per game. His top effort came at Brevard, when he carried the ball six times for 46 yards.
Williams made appearances in seven games as a reserve running back. Williams tallied 22 carries for 135 yards and two scores, with a long rush of 29 yards. His scores came against Brevard (10/8) and Mars Hill (9/24). Williams was most effective against the Lions when he had 55 yards on five carries.
"For us it's a Proverbs 27:17 season," Clowney said. "Iron is going to sharpen iron. We'll have to get in there and make each other better, then it shows up on Saturday."
Clowney pointed to freshmen Daymion Blevins, Coltton Wright, Michael Roper and Ramon Pittman as freshmen who could make an impact.
Carson-Newman football's position previews continue Thursday with the defensive line.