Next man up: Gainwell opts out, Clark gets his shot

Next man up: Gainwell opts out, Clark gets his shot
Kenny Gainwell (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Six days before the first game of the football season, Memphis star running back Kenny Gainwell opted out of the season. According to Commercial Appeal’s Evan Barnes, Gainwell lost four family members to the coronavirus, which led to his decision.

During his first weekly press conference ahead of Arkansas State, Head Coach Ryan Silverfield said he won’t talk about any player opting out unless they come forward and or sign the paperwork. But, he did say he supports every player’s decision.

Losing Gainwell is a major blow, he emerged last season filling in for Patrick Taylor Jr., who was out with an injury, and became one of the best running backs in college football. Luckily, Memphis has turned into Running Back U, so it’s now time for another guy to step up in his place. The depth chart for week one against Arkansas State has been released and Rodrigues Clark is the number one back followed by Asa Martin.

“Clark’s a young man that works hard, has done it the hard way. People always said who did I think would be a surprise, even a couple months ago and I think ‘Dreke’ Clark’s a guy that we have great faith in,” Silverfield said. “He can carry the rock, he’s got great protections, he’s got great hands can use him in some passing concepts as well. Is smart, hardworking, intelligent man that is excited to carry the rock. We have full faith in him, I know our team does, his teammates do and our coaching staff as well. I expect good things out of number two this year and really excited to watch him run on Saturday.”

Clark, a 6-foot, 200 pound sophomore, played in eight games last year. He had 26 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. Other sleepers Silverfield mentioned, Kylan Watkins from Whitehaven. He also said Marquavius Weaver, a Redshirt Junior from Bartlett. Silverfield said he isn’t talked about enough.

Kickoff for Saturday vs. Arkansas State is at 7 P.M. The game will air on ESPN.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.