Pitt running back Rodney Hammond played a key role in his team’s 77-7 demolition of New Hampshire and achieved a first for Pitt running backs this season, and for his efforts, he was named the ACC Rookie of the Week.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK https://t.co/4bFSM44AVR pic.twitter.com/gRDqyalku7— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) September 27, 2021
During Saturday’s matchup, Hammond relieved Pitt running backs Vincent Davis and Israel Abanikanda late in the game, and as it turned out, he was able to run the ball to greater effect than either of the two first-stringers.
All told, Hammond accrued 100 yards and three touchdowns after taking over for Abanikanda during Pitt’s second drive of the second half. He immediately made his presence known, as he broke off a nine-yard run in the red zone and then punched in a score from four yards out to make it 63-7.
The 5’9”, 175-pound running back would continue to build on that initial success as the game wore on, breaking free for rushes of 11, 25 and 14 yards en route to the century mark. He also added two more touchdowns, bringing his total for the day to three scores and 100 yards on 17 runs. And with his three scores, Hammond became Pitt's top rusher in terms of points contributed this season.
With his standout performance, Hammond became the first Pitt running back to accrue 100 yards in a game this season and the first freshman running back to score three times in a game for Pitt since Dion Lewis achieved the feat against Cincinnati on Dec. 5, 2009.
Unfortunately for Hammond, the first 100-yard game of his career did not alter the mindset of Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi or Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, as the depth chart released on Monday still featured A.J. Davis, Vincent Davis and Israel Abanikanda sharing first-string duties for Pitt at running back.
With that said, Pitt has leaned on first-year running backs before, such as V’Lique Carter in 2018, and Whipple may work Hammond into the game plan moving forward, given his ability to convert in goal-to-go situations. But whether Hammond becomes a part of Pitt’s plans sooner or later, it seems the freshman has at least put himself in a position to contribute more than the average underclassman.