EMORY, Va. — Football fans of the Emory & Henry Wasps might have seen a glimpse of the future on Nov. 16.
That was the first collegiate start at running back for Grayson Overstreet.
Serious fans around Virginia have at least heard of this superhero of an athlete who accounted for 9,042 yards rushing, 142 touchdowns and 950 points at Staunton River High School from 2014-17.
So what sort of debut did the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Overstreet make for the Wasps?
Check the record book.
With a blend of speed, instincts and country-boy strength, Overstreet rushed for an Old Dominion Athletic Conference-record 324 yards and two scores on 35 carries in a 59-36 victory over rival Ferrum.
“I thought Grayson could be special, but I didn’t quite know how special until I saw it firsthand,” E&H head coach Curt Newsome said.
In a wide-ranging interview Thursday afternoon, Newsome addressed the topic that has been circulating around the ODAC for weeks.
“Yes, Grayson will be an offensive player now,” Newsome said. “You’re looking at a guy who ranked among the top 10 nationally in rushing yards for the decade. He needs to be on offense.”
Two years ago, Overstreet saw action at linebacker in four games as a true freshman at Richmond. He made six tackles but did not meet the threshold of using a season for eligibility.
This past fall at E&H, Overstreet started nine games at linebacker where he ranked third on the team with 49 tackles and earned second-team All-ODAC honors.
Overstreet also carried the ball 68 times for 437 yards and six scores. T.J. Tester, the running mate with Overstreet in Staunton River’s potent single-wing offense, led the Wasps in rushing with 732 yards.
And that’s part of the appeal of the position switch.
“T.J. and I have pretty much played in the same backfield since rec league ball with the South Bedford Bulldogs,” Overstreet said. “It will be awesome to be in the same backfield in college.”
Newsome approached Overstreet about moving full-time offense just after the Ferrum game According to Overstreet, his breakout performance was due to the execution of a senior-dominated offensive line.
“We just ran our plays, and those guys did a great job of opening holes,” Overstreet said. “Every player on our team wanted to help our seniors go out with a bang, and we were able to make that happen. It was really special.”
The E&H coaches have praised the selfless approach and humility of Overstreet since his first day on campus. It comes as no surprise that Overstreet was willing to make an adjustment.
“I will miss playing defense a little, but I just want to do what’s best for my team. I will play where I am needed,” Overstreet said.
E&H co-offensive coordinators Kevin Saxton and Kamden BeCraft have been researching various looks on offense over the past few months when not on recruiting trail. The Wasps have relied on a fast-paced Run-Pass Option attack the past six years under Newsome.
“We’re going to look at some two-back stuff, but we’d like keep the same principles of the RPO because we’ve got a quarterback (Hunter Taylor) who can run that offense,” Newsome said. “We love what Grayson is all about. He is a hard worker who has no ego whatsoever, especially for a guy who has accomplished so much.”
Newsome also confirmed Thursday that former E&H offensive lineman Cody Bowman has replaced 15-year assistant Josh Wellenhoffer as offensive line coach. Wellenhoffer, who resigned shortly after the season finale, served as associate head coach the past four years.
“Josh has been a big part of this program, and he still plans to help us on game day,” Newsome said.
Only six seniors from a 7-3 team that outscored foes by an average margin of 39-26 and finished third in the ODAC with a 6-2 record. The schedule remains the same.
“We lost great leaders in Derrick Yates and Josh Fleenor, but we’ve got a lot of good players coming back, and I like the makeup of the team,” Newsome said.
What about the potential new face of the Wasps in Overstreet?
“I ran the ball a lot in high school. I’m prepared,” Overstreet said.