‘Bowling ball’ Daniel Hishaw Jr. no longer overthinking his carries as a RB
photo by: Kevin Berg/Photo courtesy of KU Athletics
The powerful legs and arms that made Daniel Hishaw Jr. an effective rusher as a true freshman this past fall continue to earn the Kansas running back acclaim within the program this spring.
“He’s just like a bowling ball in the backfield,” senior offensive lineman Earl Bostick Jr. said of what Hishaw is doing during the Jayhawks’ practices lately.
A sophomore back from Moore, Okla., Hishaw appreciated the comparison.
“I mean a bowling ball knocks down pins, and that’s what I’m gonna do,” Hishaw said of his approach as a ball carrier. “So if that’s how you’re going to describe it, you look at it that way, I’ll take that.”
One of the many freshmen who emerged as promising prospects for KU football in 2020, Hishaw played in eight games, started in three and produced 229 rushing yards on 52 carries (4.4 yards per attempt) in his first season of college football.
His most productive outings came late in the season, after Pooka Williams Jr. opted out and Velton Gardner suffered an injury. In two of his starts, Hishaw rushed for 73 yards at Oklahoma and later finished the year with 87 rushing yards and a touchdown at Texas Tech.
Looking back at what he accomplished after entering the season as the third-string rusher, Hishaw said what he learned as a freshman that’s helping him the most now is that he’s better off not overthinking plays.
“At the end of the day, you’re playing football. So once you start getting the ball or you’re out there getting reps on the field, you really just start to notice it’s just football,” he said, adding he’s taking a “just play” approach this spring.
Those tactics seem to be effective, according to KU sophomore nose tackle Da’Jon Terry. While Terry described Hishaw as “energetic,” he also spoke highly of the running backs’ ability to make the correct read and find the right running lane.
“And when he sees the hole, he’s gonna shoot it. No second guessing,” Terry said of how Hishaw runs during spring practices. “He’s gonna shoot it, full speed. Every decision he’s got to make, it’s gonna be full speed.”
As one of the three primary running backs on campus this spring, Hishaw said the practice reps are distributed rather evenly between Gardner, Amauri Pesek-Hickson, himself and others.
“Everybody’s getting the ball. Every single one of our backs can get the ball, not just me, Velton and Amauri,” Hishaw said. “We’ve got other backs, too. So everybody can do what we need them to do.”
One of those backs, senior Gayflor Flomo, also was likened to a bowling ball by Bostick.
Hishaw said even before spring ball began the running backs challenged each other during offseason workouts. That style has carried over into practices.
“The competition — we push each other in everything we do,” he said. “That’s just the big thing, because we want to see everybody win, we want to see everybody have success, so we’re going to push each other.”
While his teammates expect Hishaw to be an impactful player for the KU offense in 2021, Hishaw, when asked about his goals for his second year, again had his teammates in mind.
“Win games,” Hishaw replied, when asked about his personal objectives, adding that he wants to see KU bowl eligible.
“Everybody has stuff set for themselves, but I’m worried about what the team needs to do right now, not just myself.”