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North Little Rock | Running Back U: Cats keep charging to Division I schools

North Little Rock’s string of running backs playing Division I football will be kept alive this year with senior D.J. Brown’s commitment to Northern Illinois University.

For the past three seasons, the Charging Wildcats have sent a running back to a Division I school. In 2013, Altee Tenpenny signed with Alabama. Last year, Juan Day signed with Arkansas, and Brown keeps the stretch going. North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding said the Wildcats started getting attention during the 2009 season with Tim Johnson. Although, he was too small to play DI football, he was the MVP of the 2010 high school all-star game and scored four touchdowns which are the most in an all-star game.

However, the list of North Little Rock running backs playing Division I football is growing. Kendall Williams played with the Wildcats in 2012 and committed to Arkansas Tech. Not feeling it was the right situation, Williams left the program but ended up at Butte Community College in California. In June, he was offered and accepted a scholarship to Arizona for the 2015 season.

“We are called running back U,” Bolding said. “It’s a good situation and what we do offensively—run and throw the ball-you can’t key on the running back. Anytime you have Division I players, they have good ability.”

Bolding said his biggest compliment was during one of Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s press conference. Saban commented on how Tenpenny was so prepared in the first couple weeks of practice during his freshman year.

Wildcats to Try New Helmet

North Little Rock has 30 new helmets this year that will measure the impact of hits. Riddell approached Bolding about being the only school in Arkansas to try to the helmets. The Wildcat Foundation then purchased them.

Bolding said a built-in impact measure is in the helmet. It doesn’t tell if a kid has a concussion but does measure the impact of a hit. The trainer carries an electronic device similar to a beeper and it alerts him of what number player and the impact of the hit. He then can go through the concussion checkpoints.

“I’m all about the kids,” Bolding said. “This will help us in monitoring concussions.”

New Workout Home

Since North Little Rock Stadium is being refurbished, the Wildcats have made a home at the former Belwood Elementary School. The coaching staff and players transformed it into offices and workout areas to be used this season while construction is ongoing at the stadium.

“The kids have accepted it well,” Bolding said. “It is what it is, and I preach we can only control what we can control. We are making the best of it.”

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