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Preferred walk-on profile: Zach Hernandez

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Preferred walk-on profile: Zach Hernandez

Postby PonyPride » Sun Feb 05, 2023 1:35 am

PWO profile: Zach Hernandez
Former Dallas Christian and Rockwall running back headed to the Hilltop
Posted on 02/05/2023 by PonyFans.com

Rhett Lashlee and the SMU coaching staff seem to be collecting running backs.

First incumbent Tyler Lavine, the Mustangs’ leading ball carrier in 2022 with 642 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, walked with the outgoing seniors before the final home game against Memphis, only to switch fields and decide to come back to the Hilltop in 2023. Then they picked up a pair of transfers in Jayan Knighton (Miami) and L.J. Johnson (Texas A&M), who will join Lavine in a running backs room that also includes holdovers Camar Wheaton, Velton Gardner, Brandon Epton and Montaye Dawson, as well as Roderick Daniels, the wide receiver who stepped in as a capable ball carrier in the latter stages of the 2022 season.

Add one more to the stable of Mustang runners: Zach Hernandez, who has accepted an invitation to join the Mustangs as a preferred walk-on.

Hernandez starred at Dallas Christian in 2022. Opponents who jumped to conclusions about Hernandez his size (5-7, 180 pounds) learned quickly not to underestimate him, as Hernandez rushed 200 times for 1,556 yards (7.8 yards per carry) to help lead his team to a 13-1 record in his senior campaign.

He spent just a single season with the Chargers after transferring from Rockwall, where he started as a sophomore and junior at the 6A level of high school football. At Dallas Christian, he handled the bulk of the carries, caught 11 passes out of the backfield or as a slot receiver; he played some on defense, coming off the edge as an outside linebacker, and even kicked and punted.

Hernandez had conversations with coaches at other schools, including Oklahoma State and Texas State, but zeroed in on SMU, where he knows a few players on the roster, including quarterbacks Kevin Jennings and Keldric Luster, as well as wide receiver Corban Cleveland, who has transferred to SMU from Ohio State.

Hernandez, who plans to enroll and join his new team over the summer, said he was drawn to the Hilltop by the opportunity to continue playing near his family, as well as the opportunity to pursue an SMU pre-law degree. Balancing the two represents a significant challenge, but it would hardly be the first for Hernandez, whose acceleration has helped him race through and around defenses when he gets past the line of scrimmage, and whose strength — he has benched 315 pounds, squatted 520 and cleaned 280 — has allowed him to succeed between the tackles.

“I don’t mean this to sound arrogant, but I’m about the most durable back a team can have,” Hernandez said. “I’m durable and physical — from my sophomore year to now, I haven’t missed a game, and I pride myself on my blocking — it’s one of the best parts of my game.”

Hernandez’s willingness to block notwithstanding, his primary success has come with the ball in his hands, where that same toughness complements his speed and quickness: at Rockwall, he once averaged 6 yards per carry on a ridiculous 56 carries in a double overtime game against rival Rockwall Heath.

His ability and desire to do anything asked of him is at the core of his approach to joining the Mustangs.

“There are a lot of talented running backs (at SMU), and I know I’m not going to come in as the Day 1 starter,” Hernandez said. “If they need me to block, I can do that. If they need me to catch passes out of the backfield, I can do that, too. A lot of people get their first chance on special teams, and I definitely can play special teams.

“I’ve always had to prove myself, and I’ve done that. I’ve always bet on myself, and I’ll continue to bet on myself, because I know whatI can do as a football player."
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Re: Preferred walk-on profile: Zach Hernandez

Postby Charleston Pony » Sun Feb 05, 2023 8:21 am

This guy is likely going to bring out the best in all the guys in the RB room
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Re: Preferred walk-on profile: Zach Hernandez

Postby Horseshoe » Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:58 pm

Kind of what I was thinking. If he can push the others, he can make the position better regardless of how much he plays. Iron sharpens iron, and all that.
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Re: Preferred walk-on profile: Zach Hernandez

Postby well travelled pony » Tue Feb 07, 2023 7:20 pm

Horseshoe wrote:Kind of what I was thinking. If he can push the others, he can make the position better regardless of how much he plays. Iron sharpens iron, and all that.

Or, maybe our version of a Tyjae Spears??
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