Position Preview: Running Backs

Aug. 28, 2017



Residing in Northern California's most vibrant college town, UC Davis is ideally located between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, providing its student body with unlimited recreational options and the amenities provided by a large metropolitan city. As a member of the sixth-ranked public school in the nation, students truly enjoy the small-town community feel and a world-class academic experience in one location.

Follow UC Davis on Social Media: Twitter  Facebook  |  Instagram


By: Christy Effendie
Athletics Communications Assistant

Under Coach Mark Speckman, this year’s running backs are being asked to accomplish more than they are accustomed to.

"It’s not just a quicker tempo, we need them for different types of blocking and to become effective receivers when needed. We expect our guys to be well-rounded this season," said Speckman.

To make the transition, the assistant head coach is leaning on experienced veterans Justin Williams and Mitchell Layton to take a majority of reps. Williams, a fifth-year senior, saw action in nine games last season as one of the team’s primary kick returners. He finished the '16 campaign with 12 returns for 172 yards, averaging 14.3 yards per return.

In addition to Layton, a local junior from Roseville who saw action in eight games last season, freshmen Ulonzo Gilliam and Tehran Thomas enjoyed strong performances throughout camp, providing additional options at this position for Speckman once the season is underway.

A newcomer from this group to watch is Namane Modise. In his final season at City College of San Francisco, Modise collected 1,077 rushing and 157 receiving yards for the Rams.

Also helping this unit spread out reps are juniors Ethan Hicks and Ryan Martinez, two players who are also looking to make an additional impact for the Aggies this year on special teams.  

With his group healthy coming out of camp and ready to make an impact this season, starting with Saturday’s season opener at San Diego State, coach’s advice to member of his group is simple, no matter what its role is for any given play. 

"Be physical and hang onto the ball."