By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Baylor (6-1, 3-1) linebackers get a whole lot of love in the Bears’ offense. In their last outing against Brigham Young University, a former and a current linebacker accounted for all five of Baylor’s touchdowns in their 38-24 victory, putting them back in the rankings at No. 20. The two responsible were senior running back Abram Smith and junior linebacker Dillon Doyle, two guys who are always willing to do whatever it takes to win.
“I’ll take whatever I can get,” Smith said. “If they feel comfortable giving me the rock over and over, then I’m going to get what I can. Whatever I can do to help the team to get them going. If I got to run the rock 40 times, I got to do it. Whatever I can do to keep the chains moving.”
Smith was a running back his freshman season before transitioning to linebacker. In the 2020 season he totaled 48 tackles in eight games and also picked up a sack. However, his most recent heroic efforts came at the running back position. Smith had a career day on homecoming night where he carried the ball 27 times and finished with 188 yards and three touchdowns. Doyle spoke on Smith’s selflessness and ability to switch positions multiple times in his collegiate career.
“You saw [Smith] replace Terrel [Bernard] last year, and he was extremely productive,” Doyle said. “And then, you see him flip sides of the ball and produce offensively. I think that speaks to his maturity as a person. He had some humility to say, ‘I will go play offense’ after having half a season of productive defensive football. That speaks to his maturity and his selflessness … He is such a positive leader and he loves coming to work every day. I don’t think there’s any place he’d rather be than in our locker room and we’re certainly glad to have him.”
Last season, Doyle finished with 44 tackles as well as a sack of his own. Despite not making a position change like Smith, Doyle does get snaps in at fullback and is able to produce on both offense and defense. Doyle scored two touchdowns, one on the ground and one receiving, and came up with a big sack that tilted the momentum in Baylor’s favor for the rest of the game against BYU. Doyle became only the sixth player since 2004 to record a sack and two touchdowns in the same game. Smith said he believes the physicality of linebackers is what they want to emulate as running backs.
“Linebackers are a lot more physical,” Smith said. “That’s one thing we’re trying to establish in the running back room. You’ve seen Trestan [Ebner] a couple of times run a couple people over. Linebackers are coming into the backfield and making things happen. It’s great to see Dillon out there and get a couple scores.”
Head coach Dave Aranda also credited their success to being physical. He said physicality is embraced and he believes it is preferred over avoiding contact.
“There’s just a difference from dudes that will look for openings or look for maybe doors,” Aranda said. “There’s guys that will just run through walls and when you have someone that has that ability to fight, that wants to run through a wall and the ability to do it, that can transform your offense.”
Most of their scores came from goal-line plays which typically require a lot of physicality. Doyle credited his teammates and downplayed his success, saying he was just doing his part. Doyle said he believes a lot of his teammates could have played his role on offense.
“We got a lot of good players that could have done what I just did,” Doyle said. “We just need to keep getting those opportunities.”