Each time a flash of lightning strikes, a crack of thunder follows.
While Saturday night’s storm brought some inclement weather to Sun Life Stadium, the one-two punch of running backs Mark Walton and Trayone Gray were the “lightning and thunder” that knocked out Bethune-Cookman.
After the season-ending injury to presumed starting running back Gus Edwards, questions began to surface regarding who would take control of the position. While sophomore Joseph Yearby got the start, it was the two backups, Walton and Gray, who showed promise in the season opener.
Walton, a highly touted freshman from Booker T. Washington, rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries, including a five-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for his first score as a Hurricane.
“It was something that I was waiting on,” Walton said about his first career touchdown. “It was going through my head the whole time, trying to get into the end zone. But when I got in there, it was unbelievable.”
With his elusiveness, speed and vision, Walton has already been compared to some of the Miami greats at the running back position. While it’s still early to say the Canes have the next Clinton Portis or Duke Johnson on their hands, the freshman looked extremely poised in his first college action.
“Coach [James] Coley and [the other coaches] did a great job of preparing me during camp,” Walton said when asked of his comfort level for the season opener. “I just trust my ability and trust my o-line’s ability and run behind them.”
While Walton showed off his impressive speed and agility against Bethune-Cookman, Gray simply bulldozed over the smaller Wildcats.
The six-foot-two, 216-pound sophomore from Carol City High displayed his power and strength in the season opener as he rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
After rushing for just 24 yards on six carries last season, Gray has already more than tripled last season’s total and shown he will be featured heavily in the backfield this season.
All together the Canes rushing attack racked up 195 yards in a game shortened by ten minutes due to the delay. It’s too early to tell whether Walton and Gray will eventually be added to the list of Miami’s running back legends, but what’s safe to say is you better keep an eye out for “lightning and thunder.”