With Zach Line graduating after this season, there is no question SMU has huge shoes to fill at the running back position. But the Mustangs now have a very talented and experienced option in former Texas Longhorn tailback Traylon Shead.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder was granted an unconditional release from UT after being limited to special teams last season. With Austin in his review mirror, he enrolled at Navarro Junior College in hopes of another opportunity to play at the FBS level.
Shead now has his second shot. After picking up an offer from SMU, he visited last Thursday and committed just a few days later.
"I went down to the Houston game with my dad, and we really liked it," Shead said. "The campus was really nice and the fan support was great. They have a senior at running back, and they need someone to keep that tradition so I felt like it would be a great fit for me."
As a senior at Cayuga (TX), Shead rushed for over 3,000 yards and 50 touchdowns and was ranked as one of the best players in the state. During his lone season at Navarro, Shead is already closing in on the school's all-time rushing touchdown record and feels confident he can put up big numbers on the Hilltop.
"I feel like I can take up the responsibility right away," Shead said. "I just have to get in there and learn the offense. There is a lot of hard work ahead of me but I'm ready to come in and make an immediate impact."
With SMU running backs coach Wes Suan in attendance, Shead rushed for 142 yards and helped Navarro defeat Blinn 35-10 this past Saturday. The two spoke afterwards, and that's when Shead realized he wanted to be a Mustang.
"Coach Suan came out to my game and said he really like the way I played," Shead said. "He seems like a really straightforward guy, and I think I'll enjoy playing for him. One of my high school coaches actually got me in contact with SMU and I'm just glad it all worked out."
Shead, who also held offers from Purdue and Arkansas, will graduate in December and join the Ponies for spring practice. He has two years left of eligibility remaining.
With his commitment, Shead becomes the second player to call SMU his home after leaving Texas. Garrett Gilbert transferred to SMU this year and immediately became the team's starting quarterback. Shead said he looks forward to playing with his former teammate.
"I texted him before the Houston game, and we had a short conversation," Shead said. "I've practice with him, and he's a great quarterback. I'm just going to put it all in God's hands, but it should be fun to get back there with him."
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