Next year Ghaali will still be dishing out hits but now he'll have to protect the football at the same time. The talented athlete out of St. Joseph, MO made a big impact as a true freshman on special forces and at safety in 2009. Then he moved to outside linebacker where he had 75 tackles, 6 TFL, one sack and one forced fumble in 11 games. Muhammad also held kick return duties for most of the year and averaged 23.18 yards per return. Some people wondered why the Pokes had their linebacker returning kicks.
The answer is he is much more than just a linebacker. Currently stand 6 feet tall and weighing 225 lbs the well built Muhammad starred at running back in high school and earned Offensive Player of the Year honors from the St. Joseph News. His senior year Muhammad rushed for 1200+ yards and scored 14 touchdowns. He also played defensive back as a prep and was recruited as an athlete when he committed to Wyoming. Coach Christensen decided to play him on the defensive side of the ball.
Eric Schmoldt who broke this news is a fan of the move and I have to really agree with him. Alexander is the feature back for the Pokes and nearly put up 800 yards this year. Alexander is 5-11 and 205lbs so the extra weight that Muhammad brings should help the power running game. Alexander doesn't do a great job of shedding tackles though he was unstoppable in the Border War.
But what about the linebacker depth? If there is one position where Wyoming has depth it has to be at the linebacker position. Oliver Schober played well as backup to Brian Hendricks and there plenty of others who haven't even had a chance to see the field. Wyoming already has three LB's committed for 2011 including Ghaali's younger brother Malcom and Korey Jones a three star JUCO LB out of Garden City CC. The coaching wouldn't brought in a JUCO player if he wouldn't contend for playing time right away.
I think the mix of Alexander and Muhammad will be a solid duo for the Pokes. The #2 running back for most of the year was Robert Herron who started off at WR. The speedy Herron showed great flashes of speed and skill but dropped some easy passes and fumbled twice against New Mexico. While Herron is moving back to wide receiver for next year and that is where the Pokes need some depth. The top two receivers David Leonard and Zach Bolger are both graduating along with fellow senior wideout Travis Burkhalter.
Nehemie Kankolongo was supposed to make an impact as a freshman but missed most of the year. It will be interesting to see how many reps he gets in the spring. Right now I would say he is the third running back on the depth chart. I would also fully expect Wyoming to recruit at least one running back for their 2011 class, most likely two since Alexander and Muhammad will be both juniors next year.