August 10, 2011

Running back depth issues addressed with talented walk-ons

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech following the spring was looking pretty thin from a depth chart standpoint at the running back position. Through a bit of luck, Tech has quality depth now from true freshmen walk-ons, Blake Martin and Hunter Lee.

Tech running backs coach Pierre Ingram says he's "comfortable" with the depth chart right now and head coach Sonny Dykes feels good about it as well.

"I'm comfortable," said Ingram. "We've got two seniors out here with Lennon Creer and Ray Holley that's game proven. They did their job last year and now they're just perfecting their craft this year. We added two walk-ons in Hunter Lee and Blake Martin. Hunter Lee is going to be a versatile guy who can play a little bit of receiver for us and running back. He picked up the offense pretty quick in the first day. Blake is still learning everything, he is a freshman I understand that, but he is coming along as well. We also have another walk-on, Ricky Courtney that's getting reps. Then, hopefully it works out here soon with Tevin King with the NCAA."

"I feel pretty good about [the depth at running back]. We've got two proven guys and then Lyle Fitte has done a lot of good things for us at that position in the past. Lyle is kind of going to be our guy that bounces around from position to position because we're just going to try and figure out ways to get him the football. [Fitte] is a good screen route runner, he's pretty good coming out of the backfield and he's a good ball carrier. He doesn't really have the size to run in between the tackles down after down but he's certainly a good third guy. With Hunter Lee and Blake Martin I think we have 4 guys we are pretty solid with right now," Dykes added about the running back depth.

Lee is a guy who has really made his presence known early especially with his intensity and versatility.

"He's a football player," Ingram said about Lee. "That's the big thing I see about Hunter Lee. You can put him at any position and he can contribute. We could line him up at defense probably and he'd be able to contribute. He goes 100 MPH all the time; he's a coachable player; you give him an assignment and he's going to take to it and do it. The next thing is he is a fast back. He has good speed in and out of his routes and when he has the ball in his hands."

"We're experimenting a little right now with Hunter Lee moving him to inside receiver and he's had a really good camp thus far," Dykes said about Lee in camp.

One big surprise for the coaching staff is the fact that a guy of Lee's caliber did not have any FBS offers.

"[Lee not getting any offers] is very surprising. I've seen plenty of kids that have the opportunity to play at the division 1 level that don't posses the skillsets that he does," Ingram said.

"I was very pleased that he didn't just because we had an opportunity to get him to come here. I don't think of him as a walk-on, I think of him as a scholarship guy because he should be. We're lucky to get him. We're really fortunate to get a guy that's been that productive, reports in that kind of shape and has that kind of work ethic. He really is a good player and has a bright future whether it's at running back or inside receiver," Dykes said about Lee being passed on by all FBS programs for a scholarship offer.

During day two of fall camp, Fitte had a cut back and run for a score from about 50 yards out. That is what Tech coaches want to see from him.

"That's kind of what he does," Dykes said of that play. "Lyle's had a hard time staying healthy but you go back and you look and when he's got his hands on the ball good things usually happen for us."

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