The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘We call him Doo’: Why Ulysses Bentley IV’s Nickname Puts Everything in Perspective

Image courtesy of SMU Athletics.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — Inside the hallways of SMU football, the name Ulysses Bentley IV does not register. Instead, the 184-pound lighting rod goes by a different moniker.

“We call him ‘Doo,'” Shane Buechele said jogging off the field after one of Bentley’s touchdowns.

The reason for this is unknown to those outside the confines of Bentley’s inner circle. Maybe, they say, the rest of the world will find out as his first season with SMU comes into clearer focus.

But, for now, the nickname remains a mystery. And that feels apropo for the story arc Bentley IV has followed throughout the first month of the season.

The redshirt freshman has gone from second on the depth chart in fall camp to one of the offense’s most explosive threats.

Throughout the first three weeks, the 5-foot-10 back has tied the program record for number of touchdowns through the nonconference schedule, seven. He has compiled 380 yards rushing on 36 carries. He is averaging over 10.5 yards a touch. In short order, he has been SMU’s best player on the field whenever he has his number called.

“I’m kind of glad I got the seven touchdowns… I don’t worry too much about the numbers though,” Bentley said after the 50-7 drubbing of SFA on Saturday. “I will say, I have never averaged 17 yards in a game.”

Yet, despite all this, Bentley has operated in relative obscurity. Part of this is because SMU sees Bentley as the offense’s dynamic, change-of pace, player. The other side is SMU also wants Bentley to be the offense’s hidden gem.

Sonny Dykes did not hesitate to note Bentley will continue to be listed as SMU’s second running back on the depth chart. It doesn’t mean he won’t see more touches, it is more about signifying his role.

T.J. McDaniel, the sophomore standout from a year ago, remains the consistent workhorse on the team. Dykes likens him to the traditional starter who can block, read holes and pop out the occasional big play. Bentley, in the role right behind him, is more of the speedster who can rip off the 30 yard plays on a single touch when the defense is tired.

“We want to have two different runners with two different styles,” Dykes said. “Really, with [Bentley], you can see how much faster he gets as the game goes on. He has got a lot of speed and he is fresh. He is in the game in the fourth quarter, the defense is starting to wear down a little bit, and all of a sudden he can peel off some big runs.”

So far, the tandem has worked. Dykes likes to say they feed off one another, yet another reason not to change up the dynamic.

McDaniel and Bentley both had 104 rushing yards in three quarters of work last Saturday. Right now, they have combined for 673 yards and eight touchdowns in just 10 quarters. Both of those statistics lead the nation.

The game against North Texas might have been the best illustration of what Dykes envisioned for the running backs group — a position that is replacing two graduated seniors from a 10-win team last year.

On that day, McDaniel plowed away at 15 carries for 59 yards. In the fourth quarter, Bentley came in on one of the final drives of the game. The first-year player took a draw play 84 yards on a dead sprint against an exhausted secondary. It was Bentley’s third touchdown of the evening and effectively ended the contest.

“When they can share the load, I think it helps a guy like Ulysses. I think we will stay running back by committee because I think it makes the most sense and makes us the most productive,” Dykes added.

Image courtesy of SMU Athletics.
Image courtesy of SMU Athletics.

As for Bentley, he is fine with sharing the touches. He only had six carries against Stephan F. Austin, but added two touchdowns.

None of this is to say the roles won’t eventually change, or there will be days Bentley gets the bulk of the work. Over the offseason, he added 25 pounds to prepare for any possibility. In high school, he dabbled as a dual-threat quarterback to make the most of his play-making abilities. He is used to this.

It is also not to say that Bentley won’t eventually be a household name, ousted from his role of SMU’s best kept secret. He has already made an appearance on ESPN’s “Helmet Stickers” segment — honoring the best performers in college football after his 227-yard day in Denton. SMU even put up a graphic of Bentley and McDaniel next to Eric Dickerson honoring the 3-0 start to the season.

But, as of now, working as SMU’s unsung threat is fitting Bentley’s mold. It is like his nickname. People will eventually find out, but he is in no rush to have it happen.

A game against Memphis this week might erode that veneer just a bit — a nationally televised game against a ranked opponent — but Bentley is not thinking about it much these days.

“I can say it is not very hard [to share the reps]. The coaches know when to use us and put us in. They trust us,” Bentley said.

Image courtesy of SMU Athletics.
Image courtesy of SMU Athletics.


Dykes noted he expects SMU to play Memphis as scheduled this week despite the coronavirus outbreak that has sidelined the Tigers for the last two games. SMU’s testing results come in on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.

SMU will try to fill its open date on Oct. 10 with another game after TCU canceled earlier in the season due to COVID-19. Dykes declined to give any firm updates on potential opponents, but did say the program is following a handful of “leads.”

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