KINGFISHER — Kingfisher running back Landon Nault isn't one of those players who passes the “eye test” coaches like to talk about.
He isn't 6-foot-2 and a rippled 220 pounds. He's not a weight room freak show.
Nault is more in the neighborhood of 5-foot-9, though he's got a solid 175-pound build. And he'll bust his tail in the weight room.
But his production shows best under the Friday night lights.
Nault has been a starter for the Yellowjackets since he was a freshman, helping that team to the state finals. Now a junior, he could be in line for MVP status.
He rushed for 1,517 yards and 25 touchdowns on 198 carries last year. He caught 27 passes for 346 yards and three TDs. Even picked off a pass and made 22 tackles in limited defensive action.
If you're looking for something negative on Nault's stat line, his punting average wasn't great and his only pass attempt fell incomplete.
Otherwise, Nault simply gets the job done.
“Last year, he had a successful season, because he was a lot more comfortable after his freshman year,” coach Jeff Myers said. “We expect big things from him this year, because he has been in the weight room. You can see the difference, as far as how much muscle he's been able to put on.”
Nault feels the benefit of the added bulk.
“I feel like I've gotten a lot stronger in my lower body,” he said. “I feel like I've got more power and explosiveness.”
Now as the preseason No. 1 team in Class 3A, Kingfisher needs consistent, reliable production, and that's been Nault's specialty. It helps that he's running behind an offensive line with a good combination of size and experience, returning four starters.
And quarterback Grant Newton has a season of experience as well, giving the ‘Jackets a strong feeling of continuity on offense.
Of course, with the No. 1 ranking comes an added level of outside expectations. But Nault tells his teammates to embrace it.
“We've talked about it a couple times how people are ranking us high and have high expectations for us,” Nault said. “We talked about how we've got to grab hold of that, because we have high expectations for ourselves.
“I feel like a lot of people have grabbed onto it and have realized we've got to step up and do what we can to meet those expectations.”
Campaign Slogan: In Your Heart, You Know He's Good
In the 1964 presidential election, Barry Goldwater ran with the slogan of “In Your Heart, You Know He's Right,” suggesting that his conservative views were what the country wanted, even if it didn't seem popular. Because of his smaller stature, Landon Nault might not look the part of a star running back, but two successful seasons tell us otherwise.
Endorsements for Landon Nault
John Marshall coach Bruce Troxell: “My son played baseball with him in American Legion ball after Landon's freshman year. I saw him run, just dreading that I'd have to see him for three more years. He runs the ball the same way he pitches — just a bulldog. That's the biggest compliment I can give him. He's tough, just a gamer. He's a good kid and a good football player. If he doesn't play Week 5 against us, it won't hurt my feelings at all.”
Kingfisher quarterback Grant Newton: “Landon has been starting for two years at running back, a strong, fast runner. He's worked so hard this offseason, the hardest worker of anybody I know. He's gotten bigger, faster and stronger. We're expecting a lot from him. He'll definitely be productive t his year.”
Kingfisher offensive lineman Mitch Henderson: “He surprises people. He's an athlete, so quick and strong. He's just devoted to the game.”