During the Texas A&M game this weekend, it looked like Mullen had decided to fix MSU's lack of production at runningback by giving Dak Prescott plenty of opportunities to run the ball. Prescott had eighteen rushing attempts (which counts the two times he was sacked), and Brandon Holloway had the second most rushing attempts with five. However, there was a moment early in the second quarter where Prescott handed the ball off to Malik Dear, and he ran for a 52 yard touchdown. Mullen caught Texas A&M by surprise with the playcall, and Dear only needed to break one tackle around the 16 yard line. After watching Dear's touchdown run, I asked myself if Dear should be playing runningback instead of receiver. Based on emails from other writers from this site, several of us at least want to see Dear get more rushing attempts in some capacity.
There are a few reasons Dear might be the answer for MSU at runningback. One of those reasons is his size. Reid Coker, another writer on this site, said that Dear looks like Josh Robinson, and he is right. According to media guides, Malik Dear is 5'9, 200 pounds. Josh Robinson is 5'9, 225 pounds. Another reason Dear could help MSU at runningback is that he played both runningback and receiver in high school, so it isn't like playing runningback is something completely unfamiliar for Dear. According to Dear's profile on MSU's athletic website, he runs a 4.4, and ran for 3,298 yards in high school. Based on his stats, he actually played more runningback then receiver in high school. It is possible he picked up some of his rushing stats while playing quarterback.
It is understandable that Dear started off playing receiver. At the beginning of the year, it seemed safe to assume that out of Ashton Shumpert, Aeris Williams, and Dontavian Lee, one player would emerge as an every down runningback. If that had happened, there wouldn't be much room for Dear at runningback, and Dear has done well in limited opportunities at receiver. So far, no runningback has emerged, so it might be time to give Dear a chance at runningback.
There are some problems with switching him from receiver to runningback. Changing positions in the middle of the season is a lot to ask. Dear might not know the playbook well enough to switch positions. We also don't know how well he does other things at runningback, such as pass blocking. The coaches have seen more film on Dear than we ever will (and obviously know a lot more about football than us), and may have put Dear at receiver because he is better at receiver, and not because they assumed we were too deep at runningback to give Dear playing time at that position.
With Dear's size, skill set, and MSU's struggles running the ball, it is possible that he could play some runningback this season, or switch in the offseason. It wouldn't be the first time Mullen has switched a receiver to runningback, since Brandon Holloway made that change, and is currently MSU's most efficient runningback. It is too early to give up on Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams, and if they develop into good players, the team probably is best off with Dear at receiver. Dear playing runningback is an idea I could go either way on, and if it doesn't happen this year, it might happen eventually.