Wesley football notebook: Pendleton great find for Wolverines

Wesley freshman tailback Leroy Pendleton (49) is second on the team with four rushing touchdowns. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Leroy Pendleton feels like he’s always been the ‘little’ brother.

When he was in high school, he was played in the shadow of big brother Mark Webb, who’s now a starting defensive back at Georgia.

And, since he’s still only 17, Pendleton’s Wesley College football teammates think of him as a little brother, too.

“Like when I score, (receiver) Ruhann (Peele) usually says, ‘Oh, he’s only 17 and you can’t stop him?’” Pendleton said with a laugh.

The irony is that there’s really nothing little about Pendleton, a freshman tailback at No. 12 Wesley College (4-1 NJAC, 7-1 overall), which hosts Kean (2-3 NJAC, 3-5 overall) at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Right now, Pendleton’s potential looks as big as his 6-foot, 234-pound frame.

Wolverines coach Chip Knapp wasn’t sure what position the youngster belonged at when he first recruited him. With two Division I recruit tailbacks on the field with him at Philadelphia’s Archbishop Wood High, Pendleton only saw limited carries at fullback.

But that was before Knapp saw Pendleton on the field in preseason camp.

“Once we saw his ability to run the ball and catch the ball — he has some of the best hands on the team — now the options for him are many,” said Knapp. “He can play tailback, he can play fullback, he can play tight end, we can split him out as a receiver and he’s 235 pounds. He’s a really unique player that can produce in a lot of different ways.

“He has a real determination that’s different than a lot of guys. Great attitude, he practices hard and he has a high football IQ. He’s just a great find — because you never know until they show up.”

So far, Pendleton has been the short-yardage specialist you might expect.

He’s second on the squad with four rushing touchdowns. In Saturday’s 31-13 win at the College of New Jersey, Pendleton simply pushed the pile back to score on a two-yard run up the middle.

Pendleton said it just comes down to being more determined than the defenders trying to stop you. He has 99 yards on 26 carries this season.

“You’ve just got to push through — it’s kind of like life,” he said. “You’ve just got to find a way to get through.”

But Pendleton doesn’t want anybody to sell him short. He thinks he has the same skills as any other tailback.

He was pretty determined to prove he could play the position when he first got to Wesley.

Besides being compared to his brother, Webb, Pendleton also has a cousin, D’Andre Swift, who is a running back at Georgia.

At Wesley, though, he’s not in anybody’s shadow. He’s already excited about losing some weight and gaining some speed before next season.

“Now I’m just me,” said Pendleton, who was wearing a Georgia t-shirt. “I can finally be free. Wait until next year.

“Since I’m so big, they think big backs can’t run — they can’t cut or do the things that little backs can do. I just want to prove that I can do everything — block, receive, run. Everything. … Every time I get the ball, I feel like I can score.”

Wesley No. 2 in region

The Wolverines got some good poll news on Wednesday when they found out they were ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division III East Region.

Wesley is behind only Salisbury, which handed the Wolverines their one loss, and just ahead of No. 3 Delaware Valley, which they beat.

With two games left in the regular season, Wesley needs to stay in that No. 2 spot to have a shot at receiving a Division III playoff at-large berth,

Nationally, the Wolverines are No. 12 in the D3football.com rankings and No. 13 in the AFCA coaches poll.

Still, Knapp said Wesley can’t caught up in worrying about polls.

“The next thing in front of us is the most important thing,” he said. “All we can control is winning.

“Because of our experience last year, we take nothing for granted. We know if we don’t practice well, we’re not going to play well. … Every game is a different challenge, a different puzzle to solve.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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