In all of the years of watching football, I am not sure I have seen a guy successfully move from Tight End to Running Back and do well.
Last season was not a good one at all for the Oregon State Beavers. Their coach, Mike Riley, left after the 2014 season to take the head coaching job at Nebraska and frankly, the Beaver’s program was left in not the best of conditions.
Not only did they lose their head coach, they also had to say goodbye to their 4 year starter at Quarterback, Sean Mannion.
They finished 2-10 last year, with three freshmen playing Quarterback. Seth Collins, Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion all shared time at Quarterback and it did not work out very well.
There were a couple of bright spots, if a 2-10 season permits that type of thing.
One of the bright spots was Jordan Villamon. The Beavers really had nobody to get him the ball consistently, but Villamon is a talent. He is 6-5, 235 with speed, hands and a future in the NFL. Not many college Cornerbacks can cover Villamon.
The other is Ryan Nall.
Nall is not really a complete stranger to the Running Back position. He was actually an All State Running Back in high school at Central Catholic High School in Sandy, Oregon. He was also All State at Linebacker.
I am fairly certain that the previous Oregon State coaching staff recruited Nall as a Tight End. He was rated only a 3 star recruit by ESPN.
Nall was supposedly 6-2, 225 coming out of high school. When new head coach Gary Andersen arrived from Wisconsin, Nall was a 6-2, 255 Tight End.
They played Nall as a short yardage Fullback. He wasn’t getting a lot of carries until the Colorado game when he ran the ball 20 times for 122 yards and a Touchdown.
In spite of that success, he was still not used much with only 15 carries over the next 4 games.
But, in the annual Civil War battle against the hated Oregon Ducks, the coaches gave Ryan Nall the ball 19 times. He rewarded them by running wild gaining 174 yards.
The highlight was a 66 yard Touchdown run.
The reason that people are now excited about Ryan Nall is the speed that he showed on his long run.
The Oregon Ducks have rarely been know for great defense and the Beaver Offensive Line provided Nall with a huge running lane to run through.
When he broke into the open, Nall was pursued by two Oregon Defensive Backs.
One of the Defensive Backs was Arrion Springs. A highly recruited Cornerback out of high school, the San Antonio, Texas native was a 4 star CB and the 6th rated in the country at his position. The Texas schools wanted him pretty badly, but, he made it clear he wanted to go out of state and he was an Air Force kid.
The other Cornerback was Ugo Amadi, who was a freshman Cornerback out of Nashville, Tennessee. Amadi was a 4 star Cornerback recruit and ranked in the top 25 at his position.
Both of these guys can run, or they wouldn’t be playing Cornerback for a Division 1 school regardless of who it is. Both of these guys were huge recruiting victories for the Ducks.
They fell in behind Nall on his 66 yard run and Nall just took off and left them. If Springs had taken a proper angle, he could have caught Nall. But, he obviously was clueless like everyone else in the nation regarding what kind of athletic ability that Ryan Nall possessed.
Who would have thought that a 6-2, 255 former Tight End could outrun a couple of Defensive Backs. These Defensive Backs were 50 to 70 pounds lighter and they should by all rights have been faster.
Ryan Nall finished the 2015 football season with 455 yards rushing, but finally the eyes of the coaches have been opened and he should get a lot of carries in 2016.