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Mark becoming a name player

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” If they had an all-name team for the Western Athletic Conference, Lampford Mark would be the first-team running back.

When you see his team in print you do a double-take and immediately want to swap the last name for the first name because it makes more sense. It’s something that has followed him since he was a young boy in elementary school.

Two weeks ago at the UNLV game, Mark got into the game in the fourth quarter and the press box announcer referred to him as Mark Lampford until he was corrected.

“My dad (Roosevelt) came up with it (the first name),” Mark said. “The story is still baffling to me. He still won’t tell me why.

“Ever since I was 8, all my soccer trophies said Mark Lampford. It’s always been that way.”

A few more efforts like the one he had against Idaho last weekend (15 carries, 81 yards), and people around the WAC will know his name. Mark credits the success of Nevada’s passing game for any success the running backs experience.

“The wide receivers are catching the ball, and when wide receivers make plays it takes pressure off the running backs,” Mark said. “I think I’m doing a good job. I’m not close to where I want to be.”

Mark’s opportunity to play came when Luke Lippincott and Brandon Fragger went down with injuries in back-to-back weeks. It opened the door for Mark to compete for playing time in the Pack’s crowded backfield with Courtney Randall. Fragger will be in uniform this weekend against New Mexico State.

“He’s gotten bigger and better,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “He’s absorbing everything. He’s a quick learner.”

Mark, who is the fastest running back on the team, has played the last three games. He carried seven times for 25 yards against Missouri and had seven carries for 26 yards against UNLV before his career day against Idaho.

He’s shown he can handle the blocking assignments that running backs have in the pistol offense.

“He just needs experience; more reps,” said Jim Mastro, Nevada’s running back’s coach. “He’s getting good.

“It’s not the blocking that takes a while to learn, it’s identifying who you are supposed to block. The running backs are asked to do a lot in our pass protection. Look at his numbers in the weight room. He’s a pretty strong kid. We’re working on getting his pad level down. That comes with experience.”

Mastro isn’t surprised at what Mark has done thus far. The 6-foot-1 190-pounder from Clovis’ Buchanan High School was a standout his senior year. Mark rushed for 1,173 yards and 14 scores, including a 274-yard effort in a 38-35 win over Edison.

The speed that the Pack coaching staff loves comes from four years of track at Buchanan. He ran a 10.7 100 and a 21.8 200. He reached the CIF State Meet his senior year, but didn’t place.

“I’ve been running track since I was in fourth grade,” Mark said. “Actually it’s helped me in football a lot. It helps me stay in shape for football and keep my speed up.”

Mark can’t wait for Saturday’s game to come around for obvious reasons. He missed the first two weeks, Nevada’s only home games thus far, with a leg injury.

“It’s the first game I’ll play in Mackay Stadium,” Mark said. “It will be great to play in front of my family.”

And maybe, just maybe, Wolf Pack fans will get a glimpse at the future.

NOTES: The Wolf Pack Coaches Show can be heard from 6 to 7 p.m. on 1450AM for the next three weeks. Usually the show is heard on 630AM, but that station is airing the baseball playoffs … Defensive back Isaiah Frey, punter Brad Langley and wide receiver Brian Fludd won black shirts for their special teams play against Idaho.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281