AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State's running back-by-committee experiment looks to be over.
The Cyclones have found their man.
Junior Aaron Wimberly established himself as the go-to back with a breakout performance in Iowa State's 38-21 victory at Tulsa last week. Carrying 19 times for 137 yards — an impressive 7.2-yard average — the transfer from Iowa Western Community College gave the running game some much-needed juice as the Cyclones (1-2) prepare for Thursday night's visit from Texas (2-2).
"We certainly have packages that will work that will involve other backs," coach Paul Rhoads said Monday. "But yeah, he's our guy."
Wimberly shared time with James White and Shontrelle Johnson in Iowa State's first two games and was given just 10 carries. Iowa State averaged only 3.3 yards per carry in those contests and managed just 59 yards on the ground in a 27-21 loss to Iowa.
Rhoads decided in the days leading up to the Tulsa game to make Wimberly the primary ball carrier. The 5-foot-9, 173-pounder promptly produced the first 100-yard rushing game by an Iowa State tailback since Johnson did it in the 2012 season opener.
Wimberly's performance, which included a 35-yard run and a 31-yard pass reception, wasn't lost on Texas coach Mack Brown.
"In our league right now, speed is everything and he's just got tremendous speed," Brown said. "Every time he touches the ball, he's got a chance to score. He makes them a different team at tailback."
Wimberly is one of those runners who hits his top gear quickly. As teammate Jeff Woody put it, "He goes from zero to 60 in about one step."
Woody, a 6-1, 242-pound, short-yardage specialist, also marvels at how little space Wimberly needs to slip into the secondary.
"That play he ran to the goal line, the hole was about that wide at the line of scrimmage," Woody said, holding his hands 3 feet apart. "Once he got through that, it was just turn on the jets and let him run. That's the thing he does really well: He sticks that foot in the ground and he's running up and down the field like he might have track spikes on."
Wimberly said he hopes he can spark the entire offense, not just the running game, even if it means fewer yards for himself.