The PAC-12 and Big 12 will clash in San Antonio tonight when Stanford meets TCU in the 25th Alamo Bowl at 8 p.m. in San Antonio and on ESPN.
That means Stanford running back Trevor Speights is returning to turf in the state that earned him the opportunity to play at the highest level of college football.
The former McAllen Memorial Mustang ran wild on the gridiron in the Rio Grande Valley, rushing for 9,868 yards in four years, amassing 116 touchdowns and cementing his name as one of the top backs in RGV history.
After Trevor Speights signed on the dotted line back in February 2016 to take his talents to Northern California the work began as a Division 1 athlete, which meant patience.
As a high-schooler, Speights flirted with 1,000 carries in his career, just 31 shy of the millennium mark. Since joining the Cardinal, there’s been a logjam of talented backs in front of him and Speights is doing a lot of his growing on the sidelines and in practice.
As a freshman he watched soon-to-be Carolina Panthers first-round pick Christian McCaffrey finish his career with Stanford. McCaffrey was a Heisman finalist as a sophomore and as a junior he gained 1,913 yards from scrimmage before entering the NFL draft.
This season, as a sophomore, he’s watched Bryce Love’s ascension to one of the country’s great backs in college football. Love has ran for 17 touchdowns on 1,973 yards and 8.3 yards per carry. Love’s season was slowed by an ankle injury he sustained against rival Oregon and finished second place in the Heisman trophy voting.
The transition to being a featured back to a rusher on the depth chart has allowed Speights to learn with his eyes and wait his turn.
“They’re both great backs, just being able to do what they do and just watch them in practice and watch them in games,” Speights said in McAllen last week. “I mean me, I learn by visuals so just being able to watch them do something and try to do it has helped me a lot. Bryce and Christian have helped me become a better running back.”
Love’s ankle injuries opened the door for Speights’ first stints of contribution. Against Oregon he rushed for 61 yards on eight carries, he ran the ball 32 of his 34 attempts this season in the Oregon game and beyond.
His stats from high school appeared on the television during the Oct. 14 game, which was a 49-7 blowout win for the Cardinal. The sophomore didn’t look out of place in the conference game. He would also run for 18 yards and 19 yards against Cal and Notre Dame respectively.
“Here at Memorial we played smashmouth football, we run the ball a lot, kind of what we do at Stanford,“ Speights said. ”So it was just the perfect spot for me to be, similar offense.”
Memorial head coach Bill Littleton echoed praise for the Stanford system and also preached the value of patience for a player who is seeing less time on the field.
“The sky’s the limit for him and I think you’re only going to see bigger and better things out of him.” Littleton said. “So many kids can’t be patient and they get impatient and they want to transfer out and go somewhere else and think the grass is always greener on the other side.”
The veterans Mustangs head coach is convinced Speights is set to break out and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“I think Stanford is the perfect fit for him with the type of offense they run, along with coach (David) Shaw there it really fits into kind of what we did with him here at Memorial,” Littleton said. “I just think he’s going to grow from it. He’ll be his own player there before it’s all said and done. Where they talk about McCaffrey and they talk about Love they’ll be talking about Speights in my opinion.”