Playing hide and seek with defenses
MICHIGAN CITY — It’s hard to think that a player who had 75 total touches for 746 yards and four touchdowns in just 10 games last season can top that kind of production.
But for Michigan City senior do-it-all athlete Kameron Muhammad, that’s exactly what he wants to do.
“I do enjoy playing in the slot, but I love the backfield,” Muhammad said at Wednesday’s practice. “But I really don’t care where I play. I know wherever I am, I can make plays and help the team out.”
Muhammad was just about everywhere for the Wolves last Friday night in a sanctioned scrimmage against Northern Indiana Conference power New Prairie. It didn’t matter if he was the featured back or in the slot on either side of the formation, the Cougars had absolutely no answers for the 5-foot-8, 165-pounder.
“He’s our athlete. He’s our true athlete,” Wolves head coach Phil Mason said. “He’s our ‘get him the ball in space and let him do his thing’ guy. Whether that’s at tailback or that’s at slot, he’s a kid who confidently hounds me for the football. And when the football is his hands, usually pretty good things happen. We saw that in the scrimmage. We know that teams are going to start finding out where he is and looking for him, so we have to make him aware of that and make our offense aware of that. Reading coverages, understanding how people are defending us and how people end up defending him will be really important for us as time goes on.”
Mason confirmed before Wednesday’s practice that La Porte senior transfer Detrick Merriweather will take the initial first-team reps in City’s opener against Griffith on Friday night at “The Boneyard.” Regardless of who the starter is, Muhammad being the tailback in Mason’s scheme is on the checklist for Friday and beyond, especially with a new face at quarterback.
Senior lefty Bryce Hayman is the guy now for the City offense and he’ll start against the Panthers under center. Mason feels the versatile Muhammad will be a key cog in easing Hayman into full-time varsity action.
“It’s huge,” Mason said on Hayman being able to lean on Muhammad when needed. “He’s undoubtedly a go-to guy for us. You can bring him at tailback and he’ll make things happen. You can put him in the slot. You can send him down the field. You can bubble him. There’s just so many different little things that we do with him that make him so special.”
It’s no surprise that Muhammad has set a personal goal of 1,000 all-purpose yards across the 2018 season. He broke free in space countless times against the Cougars, partly due to the fact teams are giving him space before he even gets down the field.
“Being the running back is so fun, but being in the slot is nice, too,” Muhammad said. “When you’re in the slot, the safety or whoever is usually sagging off you a bit in their coverages, so it gives me so much space to get out and make something happen for our offense.”
On top of his role as arguably the Wolves’ biggest offensive threat, Muhammad even has thought about the task of taking on more special teams responsibility to help him reach his goal.
“I’m not much of a punt returner,” Muhammad said with a laugh, “but I’ll do some kickoff returns and try to make things happen for us. I just want the ball any way possible.”
Reach Michael Whitlow at email@example.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.