Roland’s career stuttered at the start, due to some maturity issues and a blocked path to playing time, with Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith standing in the way.
Randle eventually moved on to the NFL, and when Smith struggled a year ago, Roland seized the opportunity with a breakout 219-yard, four-touchdown game at Iowa State. By season’s end, he was one of the most productive backs in the Big 12, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and proving capable as a receiver, too, totaling a combined 16 touchdowns.
“His first 18 months in college, he was a long ways away from being able to develop into a Big 12 football player and a college student,” Gundy said of Roland. “He understands now. He’s up. He’s in class. He’s in study hall. He’s on time. He’s developed some toughness.
“Last year, at a pivotal time, when we needed someone to climb on and someone to ride, he did a great job for us carrying the football.
“He was really good. So I think he’s embraced that.”
Now Roland must embrace sharing the load.
And he says he has, even to the point of sharing the same backfield with Hill and/or Childs.
“I love the idea of me and (Hill) being in the same backfield,” Roland said. “Me, him and Rennie at times. The defense will never know who’s going to get the ball.
“We can both make big plays. When that first game comes, we’re going to see what can happen.”