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August 15, 2011RUSTON, La. - Flashback to 2007 in Tatum, TX, and you would find one of the best high school running backs in the nation in 6'1", 202 lb. Lennon Creer. With his dangerous combination of power and 4.5 speed, he was able to rush for more than 2,000 yards in both his junior and senior seasons, while amassing 52 touchdowns.
Rivals took note of this, and had him rated as the 8th best player in the powerhouse state of Texas, one spot behind 1st round pick of the Cowboys Dez Bryant. They had him rated as the 6th best running back in the country, a couple spots ahead of 1st round pick of the Lions Jahvid Best. And lastly, they had him rated as the 57th overall player in the entire country, a couple spots ahead of the 7th overall pick of the Browns Joe Haden.
Creer ended up waiting all the way until the last week of national signing day to choose where he'd play his college football, and rightfully so. He had several offers to mull over from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, etc. He ultimately felt most comfortable with "rocky top" Tennessee.
After 2 seasons in Knoxville that included limited playing time, Lane Kiffin became the new Volunteers head football coach. Coupled with an overly crowded backfield, Lennon decided he wanted to transfer to Louisiana Tech to play for Derek Dooley in his pro-style offense.
"Tennessee was the best choice for me at the time," said Creer. "But, we had a coaching change and I think it was the best situation for me to leave. Louisiana Tech was close to home as well as some schools in Texas, but I knew we were going to run the ball with Coach Dooley."
Flashback to 2010, and ironically Dooley took the Tennessee job after Kiffin bolted for USC after only 1 year. In comes Sonny Dykes with his spread offense, and many wondered how Creer would fit, including himself.
"I was concerned [with the coaching change], said Creer. But I sat down with Coach Dykes when he first got here and he explained to me what my role would be in this offense. And he assured me I could do everything I wanted to do in this offense."
Transfers from other colleges don't often make a big impact with their new schools, at least not for the Bulldogs in recent years. Having to sit out a year per NCAA rules is tough enough. Then some carry disciplinary baggage or a lack of motivation that results in a promising, yet forever lost career. The first 5 games seemed to agree as it didn't go well for Creer or, for that matter, the Bulldogs.
The team would start out 1-4 with Creer not playing much of a factor in any of them. He averaged only 10 carries per game with his most being 17 in the opener against Grambling. He would average only 53 yards per game in this span as well. The low point came against Southern Miss when he had only 5 carries for 22 yards.
The person and his abilities were not jiving with the coaches and their offense. But in week 6 versus Utah State, something "clicked." Everyone began to witness the emergence of a multi-talented running back just waiting to show why he was so highly rated coming out of high school. He had his first 100 yard rushing game that day as he accounted for 120 on the ground.
"I think the coaches started putting more trust in me and started finding more ways to get me the ball. And I started understanding what they wanted from me and it just started to click," said Creer.
The next week he went for 179 yards against Idaho on his most carries thus far, 23. Then the country got reacquainted with Creer on national television as he pounded out 149 yards on 35 carries against Boise State. Then later against San Jose State, he would have his biggest game statistically with 30 carries for 252 yards, having almost as many yards in this one game as he did in his first 5 combined. He would finish the year with 1194 rushing yards and a 5.35 yard per carry average.
Flash forward to today, and it's almost time for the "Lennon Creer Show" to pick up exactly where it left off. The move from the bright lights of the SEC to Louisiana Tech has come with its fair share of bumps in the road, but it's a decision he's very happy with.
"It's been fun, said Creer. I can see all my family at the game. And I know they will be there supporting me and see them after the game. I've learned you can make it anywhere. It doesn't matter if you go to a big school or a smaller school."
One can't help but get a strong feeling that Creer has something very special in the making for his senior year, and beyond.
"I just want to win a WAC championship and go to a bowl game, said Creer. That's all I want to accomplish."