The SWAC often gets titled as the conference of the quarterback and wide receivers. The offenses in the conference are known to be high flying and capable of generating a lot of points. The running back position in the conference sometimes gets forgotten about but to forget about the ball carriers who have cut their teeth in the SWAC would be a mistake.
No. 1: De’Shawn Waller, Alcorn State
De’Shawn Waller was worried that his college football career may have been over when 2018 started.
Waller played two seasons at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas but after his eligibility was up he wasn’t fielding many college offers. Many schools told Waller that he was small to be a big time back at the college level. As days went by, Waller held on to one scholarship offer which was from Hampton University until his JUCO film ran across the eyes of former Alcorn State offensive coordinator Ryan Stanchek and cornerbacks coach LeRoy Frederick. But this wasn’t happily ever after for De’Shawn Waller just yet. Waller lost a close friend of his and then when once he arrived at Alcorn State he was third on the depth chart and a rib injury kept him out of the first three games of the season. Waller was an unknown for many Braves fans. After all, starting running back PJ Simmons was the preseason SWAC Offensive Player of the Year so Waller was only expected to give him a breather from time to time.
Thet SWAC got an introduction to De’Shawn Waller as he rushed for 214 yards on 28 carries against Alabama State. From that point Waller would rush for 120 yards or more in seven of Alcorn’s final eight games giving him a total of 1,215 rushing yards on the season. Waller also added 12 rushing touchdowns which led the conference, he finished eighth in the nation in rushing yards per game (121.5 ypg), 15th in total rushing yards, 19th in all-purpose yards per game (133.0), 19th in rushing yards per carry (6.5), 20th in rushing TD’s, 23rd in scoring (7.8 pg) and 25th in total touchdowns (13). Not bad for a guy who didn’t become the starter until the seventh game of the season.
Waller played his biggest games on the biggest stages last season. In the SWAC Championship he rushed for a game-high 177 yards and three touchdowns. He broke loose for an 83-yard touchdown run which was the second-longest in the history of the SWAC Championship game. He followed it up by running for a game-high 167 yards during his return home to Atlanta in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
After starting 2018 in Etheridge Courts in Atlanta wondering if his football career was over, he ended the year as an HBCU All-American, a STATS FCS All-American, the SWAC Newcomer of the Year, First Team All-Conference, a Conference Champion, and considered to be one of the best running backs in the country.
The question now is what does he have left for an encore?