David Hood has had to wait.
After totaling 11 rushes for 62 yards in Temple’s first two games last season, Hood redshirted, forcing him to wait another year before seeing the field.
With the emergence of junior running back Jahad Thomas as the featured back of Temple’s backfield in 2015 and the presence of freshman running backs Ryquell Armstead and Jager Gardner, Hood, a redshirt freshman, has had to wait again for his share of meaningful carries this season.
As Armstead and Thomas saw their roles limited due to nagging injuries, Hood had 14 attempts for a career-high 61 yards and one rushing touchdown in Saturday’s 31-12 win against Memphis at Lincoln Financial Field.
“It’s alway tough when you’re young,” Hood said. “But when you got older, guys like our seniors telling you to ‘be patient, your time will come,’ that always soothes you and helps you get through everything. … And the time eventually came.”
Hood’s touchdown, the first of his career, came on a 14-yard run in the second quarter when he bounced off two defenders before finding the endzone.
The redshirt freshman has 35 attempts for 137 yards and a touchdown on the season. His previous previous career high in carries was 16 rushes for 47 yards during the team’s 49-10 win against Tulane Oct. 10.
Coach Matt Rhule said Hood earned time last week in a third-down role to help spell Thomas, and he continued to impress in the win against Memphis.
“We made a decision to play him some more, and then he got out there [Saturday],” Rhule said. “I thought that run was a special, special run for the touchdown. Whatever we’ve given him, he ends up attacking it.”
Along with Thomas, Gardner and Armstead, Hood is one of four backs in Temple’s backfield with 100 yards rushing and a touchdown this season.
Thomas leads the way with 229 carries for 1,069 yards and 15 touchdowns. Gardner, who had 12 carries for 43 yards Saturday, has 26 attempts for 165 yards and a touchdown. Armstead has 41 attempts 161 and two touchdowns.
“Practice is hardcore,” Hood said. “You never know. Everybody’s fighting for reps and it just brings the best out of all of us … When that one back that they know is starting gets in, they play to their full potential because they know the next play, another running back could be in.”
Thomas had 12 carries for 34 yards against Memphis. It was the first time all season he failed to reach the endzone.
The junior has not fully practiced in recent weeks, as he has dealt with several injuries, including bruised ribs since the Owls 24-20 loss to Notre Dame Oct. 31. Saturday’s 12 rushing attempts were his fewest this season.
“Just being a competitor and due to injuries and stuff like that, it’s definitely tough, not being able to finish games now late in the season,” Thomas said. “But I know this is what comes with [being a featured back].”
He added that the emergence of the young backs is comforting as he experiences the effects of carrying the ball more than 200 times for the first time in his career.
“Those guys are great players,” Thomas said. “They just don’t get to show it as much because of the success I’ve been having. They work just as hard as I do, so when their number is called, they’re prepared.”
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.