In 2010 recruiting, the Horns are in hot pursuit of Temple’s Lache Seastrunk. But with Seastrunk expected to have his college destination remain a secret until late in the process, the Horns extended an offer to one of the top backs the state and landed Traylon Shead, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who has rushed for over 7,600 yards during his prep career.
But can Shead, from 1A Cayuga, carry the load in college? What is Texas getting in Shead? What does he need to improve?
Running back is a position where Mack Brown says the Horns would like to sign one great player at the position every year. In the class of 2009 Texas did exactly that turning down the likes of Christine Michael, Dexter Pratt and Trent Richardson to add Madisonville’s Chris Whaley to its running back stable. And for 2010, Texas has already added the prolific Cayuga star, Traylon Shead. Shead is big, durable and productive and will give the Horns another versatile back in their stable for years to come.
Traylon Shead (6-2/205/4.5) Cayuga
With his size and speed combination, Shead is a nightmare for defensive coordinators at the Class 1A level. But even if he was a 5A player, he would still rank among the state’s best.
Strengths: The biggest difference that I noticed in Shead in going from his sophomore year to his junior year was simply how he played the position. As a sophomore he looked like he was just bigger, stronger and faster than everybody else, often making big plays on sweeps and off tackle plays. As a junior, though, he improved leaps and bounds on picking up the nuances of the running back spot and learning how to use his physical gifts. He plays in a spread system and he has tremendous vision when hitting the hole, constantly looking for angles or to hit the cut back. His feet are some of the best that I have seen on a big back in recent years and his lateral quickness is off the charts from other upright runners. He is a slasher back and does an outstanding job of making people miss in the open field. His quickness allows him to make plays in space both on wide running plays and in the short passing game. His versatility also allows him to play wildcat quarterback and receiver in some sets in Cayuga’s offense. He won’t run people over every time, but his ability to make yards after the first hit — and he has a lot of those in his career — speak to his natural strength.
Areas to Improve: Like all taller backs, he is going to have to learn to run with a lower pad level in college. He does not take a lot of high impact hits being an upright runner simply because his speed and quickness compensate for some of his weaknesses. He has good speed, but right now I would not project him to be a guy that can go 80-yards at the drop of a hat in college. He also needs to make sure that his feet remain active on contact.
Overall Assessment: Naturally being from East Texas, people will want to compare Shead to Adrian Peterson. The best comparison between the two is their initial burst to get to the second level and their lateral quickness, but Peterson has that top gear that Shead doesn’t to pull away from a defense. That does not discount the fact that right now Shead looks like the No. 2 back in the state behind Seastrunk.
Grading the Horns Class: B+
Shead by himself would give the Horns an elite back in their class, and this is no knock on Shead at all, but Seastrunk has the type of home run ability that the Texas offense simply does not have. Either way, Shead has the potential to be a major contributor and with the running back depth chart being chock full of guys that still have a lot of eligibility left, Shead will have time to adjust to the speed of the game.