As we get ready to face off against the evil Tigers from down on the Bayou, it occurred to me that we are about to witness a sight that is not often seen. Yes my friends, LSU brings the dreaded white running back into Commonwealth Stadium. Like the dodo bird and an insightful John Clay column, the white running back has grown more and more rare in recent years. A caller to my radio show last week was talking about Hester and asked who the last great white hope at running back was and the best we could come up with was John Riggins and Franco Harris. But now here comes the number one team in the nation, whose go-to back likely listens to Kenny Chesney and watches Jay Leno before he goes to bed (admittedly I have no basis for either fact, but those seem like the two whitest activities I can imagine).
Hester however is the real deal. He is quick and tough and finds a way to get hard yards, while also eluding the defenders with cuts that have left more than one linebacker looking silly. His coaches rave not only over his work ethic, but over his speed and have said that he is the key to this team’s success. However as is usual in the world of sports, the talking heads are having a difficult time categorizing Hester’s game. As in basketball, when every white player is compared to Larry Bird, Keith Van Horn, Tom Chambers or Detlef Schrempf, announcers continually want to compare him to guys like Riggins and Harris or even true fullbacks such as Brad Muster. But anyone who watches Hester knows he is not like any of these players as the most apt comparison may be the one that Desmond Howard made, when he said that Hester reminded him of Maurice Jones-Drew. I commend Howard for reaching over racial boundaries and not simply comparing Hester to Jim Bob Cooter because he has no other frame of reference. White guys can be compared to black guys and vice-versa. As anyone who has seen Carlton on the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” can attest, dorkiness knows no racial lines….and Hester is now proving that neither does quickness or running back glory.
My hope is that we see little of what makes Hester great on Saturday, as the defense shuts him down. However if he makes a good run, I am going to call it “Adrian Peterson-esque” or compare him to the great Mo Williams. But listen to what the announcers on television choose to do…..I bet you money that the names Franco Harris, John Riggins or Keith Van Horn come up…..just you wait and see.