Ryheem Skinner traveled from North Carolina to Santa Maria for the opportunity to earn a football scholarship to a four-year university through Allan Hancock College. After leading Hancock's high-powered offense to back-to-back conference titles, Skinner's decision to become a Bulldog paid off with a scholarship to Tarleton State University, a Division II program that competes in the Lone Star Conference. He became at least the tenth player from Hancock's 2018 squad to sign with a four-year university.
During the 2018 season at Hancock, Skinner ranked No. 4 in the state with 1,294 rushing yards and sixth with 14 rushing touchdowns. He posted eight games with at least 110 rushing yards, including a career-best 173 yards against West Los Angeles. He was named the Pacific League's 2018 Offensive Player of the Year and to the 2018 Region IV All-California First Team Offense. In two seasons with Hancock, he rushed for 2,043 yards and scored 21 touchdowns over 20 games. The Bulldogs went 18-4 overall and a perfect 10-0 in conference the last two seasons, winning back-to-back outright conference titles for the first time in 57 years.
Tarleton is led by head coach Todd Whitten, who led the Texans to the program's finest season in program history in 2018. Tarleton posted an undefeated regular season en route to the first outright Lone Star Conference title in program history. Powered by the No. 5 offense in the country, the Texans earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA regional tournament, the highest seed in program history, advancing to the regional finals and finishing ranked No. 5 in the nation.
Whitten has 14 years of collegiate head coaching experience, including five years at Sam Houston State (2005-2009) and three stints as head coach at Tarleton (1996, 2000-2004, and again in 2016-present). In eight seasons as head coach of the Texans, Whitten is 68-36 overall, with a 50-25 record in conference games.
A handful of Tarleton players have gone on to sign with NFL teams. Defensive end Rufus Johnson was taken by the Saints in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tarleton opens the 2019 season on Saturday, September 7, at Stephen F. Austin.