The number one thing you need to be a good running back is a good mind-set—you have to think that you can do whatever you need to. You can’t doubt yourself for a minute. If a guy’s fixing to come knock your head off, and you know he’s fixing to knock your head off, you have to think, “I’m gonna knock his head off.” Sometimes I get the ball and I just run. Most of the time, though, you have to go to your reads; you have to know what everybody else is doing, like your linemen. Then, like coach says, no errors. Plus you have to hope no one catches you. I’m five ten, weigh about 210. Last year I was about 220, and I felt slower. You need a little muscle behind you if you plan on blocking linebackers and defensive backs, but it’s better to be faster. The game gets a lot faster, going from high school to college. That hole opens now, and bang—it’s gone. It all depends on one little step. If you hesitate, it could cost you.

Jamario Thomas is a junior at the University of North Texas. In 2004 he led all Division I running backs in the nation in rushing with an average of 180.1 yards per game.