With the Smash Brothers a little beat up and Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong reluctant to risk further injury to his two workhorse backs, junior D’Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren, freshman Kyle Porter is stepping up in a big way.
Once potentially headed for a redshirt season with sophomore Kirk Johnson able to flash some incredible lateral quickness months removed from an ACL tear, Porter now looks like a player who will be difficult to keep off the field for the Longhorns.
One clip from last Saturday’s scrimmage showed Porter charging through a hole, breaking an arm tackle from freshman defensive tackle Gerald Wilbon, and then darting past senior safety Dylan Haines in the open field with a stiff arm and a lateral cut.
Of course, gaining big yardage like that is nothing new for Porter, a product of Katy, the Houston-area football powerhouse that still heavily emphasizes the running game and churns out backs like a factory.
During his three seasons on varsity, Porter carried the ball 643 times for 4,903 yards and 75 touchdowns.
"For two years, I had the chance to watch him coming from an unbelievable program," head coach Charlie Strong said on National Signing Day. "You look at Katy High School and the championships they win, so you know what type of player you're going to get there."
What Texas got is a quiet kid who shunned the recruiting process — he didn’t like giving interviews and doesn’t have a Twitter account, leading to his commitment to the ‘Horns breaking from a teammate posting to his own Twitter account.
Strong and his staff also got a player who worked hard to come back from an ankle injury that required surgery after costing Porter nearly four games in 2016, but didn’t keep him from carrying Katy to a state title courtesy of a dominating victory over Lake Travis.
Porter ran for 188 yards and three touchdowns in that 34-7 win.
And the rehab was clearly successful, as the 5’9 Porter is now up to 208 pounds and made the middleweight final in Week Five of the “Battle for the Belts” during the summer.
Described by sophomore offensive guard Patrick Vahe as “swole,” Porter has a prototypical build for a running back and a prototypical skill set — he can jump cut, slide step, use his vision, find the cutback, hit the open field, and finish with good speed.
In particular, Strong noted his ability to stay behind his pads, get low, and finish plays by picking up extra yardage. The Smash Brothers can leverage the roughly 500 pounds possessed between them to punish defenders, but Porter does it in a different way with his low center of gravity that is unique in his position room.
He’s also well-rounded with 40 catches and six touchdowns in the passing game.
And Vahe added that Porter is a fast learner, so he’s quickly adapted to the simple offense run by Sterlin Gilbert. After the second scrimmage, Strong agreed.
Beating out another hard-working back in the sophomore Johnson won’t be an easy task, but after the breakout performance in last week’s scrimmage, Porter will continue going about his business, as always — quietly, and punctuated by touchdowns.