Devine Noel went from quarterback to running back this offseason, and so far the transition has been a smooth one. While the Tornadoes’ may be just 2-4 on the year, it’s no fault of Noel, who has already rolled up 300 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with 200 receiving yards out of the backfield.
ALBANY -- When Devine Noel handed the ball off to a younger, less-experienced quarterback in the offseason, he wasn't worried.
Noel knew he'd get the ball back, just under a different scenario.
Getting to know Devine Noel: The Dynamite 'Half-Dozen' Q&A
New this year, a half-dozen questions for our Dynamite Dozen players about their likes off the football field:
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: "Ham and macaroni.''
Q: What's your favorite movie?
A: "Love & Basketball.''
Q: Who is your favorite entertainer (movie star, comedian, singer etc)?
A: "Katt Williams.''
Q: Who is your favorite NFL player?
A: "Chris Johnson, (but my) favorite football player is (former West Virginia star) Noel Devine, who currently plays in the United Football League. Devine Noel changed his number to 7, Noel Devine's college and pro number.''
Q: If you were stranded on an island, who would you want to be with you?
A: "My mom, Vevilyn Noel.''
Q: Who is the person you owe everything to?
After combining for more than 1,000 yards rushing and passing as the 2010 Monroe High quarterback, coaches asked Noel to relinquish his signal-calling duties before his senior season to rising sophomore Charles Stafford.
Noel moved to running back, and even with the position change, was named a 2011 Herald Dynamite Dozen selection because of his versatility and running ability.
"We made the change at quarterback in the spring and (Noel) never said a word," Monroe head coach Charles Truitt said Tuesday at Tornadoes practice. "He came in and worked and made himself better."
With his future in mind, the Tornadoes' 5-foot-11, 200-pound tailback never missed a stride.
"It doesn't bother me," Noel said of the position change. "I like running the ball anyway. I think I'm one of the most versatile players on the team, maybe in Albany. I just want to show the colleges that I can do a lot."
Despite a slower-than-expected 2-4 start to the season, Noel has shown flashes of next-level running talent. He has rolled up more than 300 yards rushing and one touchdown and also has more than 200 yards receiving while lining up at slot receiver.
Stafford said Noel has turned into his "crunch-time" receiver in third-down situations and has benefited from having a former quarterback on the field.
"He knows (the offense) real well," Stafford said. "Sometimes he'll tell me what (play) to check to. He sets the tempo. Whatever will make the team better, that's what position he'll play."
Added Truitt, "He's really Charles' security blanket back there because he really knows the offense. That's been a big plus for us."
Truitt hasn't looked back on the quarterback change. Stafford, the 6-2, 210-pounder has the arm to stretch the field, and Noel is the most physical back with vision on the team.
"We had two great kids, one on the bench and one on the field, so we had a situation where we wanted both of those kids on the field at the same time," Truitt said. "It was just beneficial for us to make that move."
Monroe still has passing plays designed for Noel, too. He's thrown a few passes on toss sweeps and lined up at quarterback a handful of times last week against Americus-Sumter.
A few colleges -- Georgia Southern is close to offering and Georgia Tech has shown interest -- wanted to see Noel at running back, a big selling point to the position change, Truitt noted. Colleges also wanted to get a look at Noel on defense. Of course, nobody thought for a second the Tornadoes' senior would back down from another challenge to his position flexibility.
"I've heard from different colleges saying they want me to play safety and they've never seen me play safety," Noel said. "I'll try it."
And he did, playing nearly a full game in the defensive backfield last week.
"The running game has improved the last couple of weeks," Truitt said. "He's a team player and is even playing a lot of defensive back for us -- whatever it takes to win."