When TCU running back Waymon James entered the game at SMU in September 2010, he had all of eight carries for 48 yards and a touchdown on his college résumé. And most of that came the week before in mop-up duty in a blowout over Tennessee Tech.
So James was a bit of an unknown talent when the Horned Frogs were locked in a battle with the Mustangs before an ESPN audience and Ed Wesley was forced to the sidelines with a concussion early in the second quarter.
"I was more nervous than anything," James said. "Some of [my teammates] knew I was nervous, so they just said go out and play."
That's what James did. He scored on a 4-yard run to cap the same 15-play, 70-yard drive that saw Wesley get hurt.
James, a redshirt freshman at the time, helped the Frogs pull away in the third quarter with runs of 4, 7 and 6 yards before giving the Frogs a 28-17 lead with a 9-yard touchdown run.
James and Matthew Tucker will be the Frogs' two main rushers out of the backfield in 2012. And this year, they'll have to do it without Wesley. That's something James took as a challenge.
"Nobody thinks our running game is going to produce," James said. "So me and Tuck worked out all summer and knew we'd have to step up and put it on our shoulders. We didn't take a break. We stayed here in May, June and July and worked out all summer."
It took a few games in 2010 before the butterflies went away, James said, but he still gets them before each game.
"It's part of the game," he said. "But after that first hit, I'm good."
James continued to excel the rest of that 2010 season and had a knack of showing up when TCU needed him the most.
He led the Frogs with 64 yards in the biggest game of the year at Utah. His 25-yard scoring run late in the game came after he recovered a Casey Pachall fumble. His first 100-yard game came against San Diego State when Wesley only carried once because of an injury. In the Frogs' Rose Bowl win, James led the running backs with 24 yards on four carries -- Andy Dalton led the team with 31 yards on nine carries.
James finished 2010 with 513 yards and five touchdowns and followed with a team-leading 875 yards and 7.2 yards per carry in 2011.
He's not concerned whether TCU continues to rely on a three-man rotation without Wesley. Senior Aundre Dean and freshman B.J. Catalon are the contenders to fill that role.
"Whichever it is, it's fine with me as long as we win games," James said. "It keeps people healthy, and that's what we need. We need depth this year going into the Big 12. It's not all about the carries. It's about winning games."