Cameron McKinney

Cameron McKinney of University of North Dakota rushes the ball versus North Dakota State University in Fargo, Sept. 7, 2019. McKinney has transferred to Central Washington University.

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Speed, elusiveness, and just outright pounding the rock. It’s what Central Washington University prides itself on and what it will continue to uphold.

The last couple of years have been an example of that. In 2018, perhaps one of the best rushing seasons in CWU football history, the Wildcats totaled 2,999 yards (272.6 per game) in 11 games, good for sixth in all of Division II.

Last year wasn’t nearly as sterling but still finished with an average of 211.6 yards per game (29th in D2).

There were a few reasons for that, but mainly because CWU graduated quarterback Reilly Hennessey and running back Cedric Cooper, who accounted for over 1,502 yards.

In 2019, quarterbacks Christian Moore and Canon Racanelli combined for 388 yards on the ground. But CWU didn’t have the same production out of its backup running backs as it did with Cooper in 2018, who evenly split carries with Michael Roots. Eric Wilkes and Zach Floyd combined for 270 yards on 62 carries.

Instead, CWU leaned on the incumbent starting back Roots (from 139 carries in 2018 to 219 last season), a 2019 All-America and GNAC first-team selection, who led the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in rushing yards (1,515), touchdowns (14), yards per carry (6.9) and yards per game (137.7). His total rushing yards were sixth in Division II.

But why not continue to add depth to the position and pair senior Roots with a junior transfer in Cameron McKinney out of Division I FCS North Dakota State University, who played both running back and wide receiver in three seasons (one as a redshirt).

“Time to hit the restart button,” McKinney tweeted with a graphic of his commitment to CWU.

In two seasons at UND, he caught 28 passes for 211 yards and had 49 carries for 302 yards with two touchdowns. In 2019, he was UND’s main kick-off returner, and in 17 attempts, totaled 402 yards. His best performance came against Northern Colorado, rushing for a career-high 105 yards on six carries and a touchdown.

McKinney, who missed four games in 2019, also ran track at UND as a sprinter and jumper. He’s seventh all-time in UND history in the long jump (7.03m).

Along with Roots, McKinney will join a backfield with Green and incoming freshmen Cameron Daniels (O’Dea High School), Zaire Lozolo (Kennedy Catholic High School) and Jackson McCann (Enumclaw High School). McCann notched 1,654 all-purpose yards his senior season (1,169 rushing) along with 17 touchdowns, and CWU head coach Chris Fisk was elated to sign him back in February.

“We had him at camp, seemed like every time he touched the football he scored a touchdown,” Fisk said

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb


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