By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Senior running back Trestan Ebner has seen it all. For the last five years, he has put his skills on display time and time again, and he has consistently improved.
After a 2019 campaign in which he put up great numbers as a pass-catching running back, Ebner was set to go berserk in the 2020 season. Amid the down year with COVID-19 and other team issues, he did not thrive to the extent that he was expected.
The plans for the upcoming season are for that to change. Ebner is set to be a huge piece of the new Baylor offense. With head coach Dave Aranda and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes implementing a wide zone offense, the quick and shifty Ebner will get lots of opportunities to get out in the open field and make plays for the team.
“There is a lot of space in the wide zone, especially if you block it upright,” Ebner said. “You can get one-on-one with the safeties and a lot of big plays waiting to happen.”
Ebner has shown that if he can get past the second level of a defense, he can cause problems for the opposing team. It’s difficult for safeties and corners to make a tackle in open space against the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back. If all goes according to plan with the offensive scheme, be ready for a lot of breakthrough plays out of the backfield with Ebner taking a handoff. Ebner said he believes the offense is a good fit for him.
Ebner is also a major threat as a kick returner, and he plans to continue this role for the team. With Ebner being a speed threat, he works well with the special teams unit and plans on helping the offense through explosive returns.
“For me, it’s just a chance to change the game,” Ebner said. “If I can help us cross the 50 [yard line], that just increases our chances of scoring on offense.”
Ebner has also been taking leaps as a leader for the team.
“I always looked at him as a leader — a vocal leader,” senior running back Abram Smith said. “He’s actually improving a lot … and he’s got that kind of influence on the team. The more that he speaks, the more the guys listen to him, the more we go out there and we actually execute.”
This is being put on display not only for Ebner’s teammates but also for his coaches. The newfound leadership role that Ebner has embraced surprised Aranda.
Aranda said Ebner has grown since last season into a player who has been more vocal during practice in encouraging his teammates. He said during one practice, he was pleased to hear Ebner supporting the team and telling the players to “bring the energy” into practice.
Ebner gives all the credit for his leadership skills to his teammates and coaching staff. The potential was unleashed, and now the locker room has a running back that will be vocal for them all season.
“Coach Aranda and the guys challenged me because I’m not that vocal of a person,” Ebner said in a press conference. “I’ve really been practicing this summer, so I think for getting me outside my comfort zone … I’m stepping more into a leadership role.”
This is the last season for Ebner, who has been with this program since 2017 and has built strong bonds within the team. As the days dwindle down and his final season at Baylor begins, he is staying motivated.
“I know it’s the last one,” Ebner said. “I just want to take that and work hard every day because it’s my last one. I want to enjoy this as much as I can with these guys I’ve grown to love.”
Ebner is set for a big season. He has been added to the Hornung Watch List and Reese’s Senior Bowl Watchlist. Big 12 and nonconference defenses alike will have their hands full trying to contain him, as the Baylor Bears hope to be a big name to look out for during the upcoming season.