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**HC EXCLUSIVE** Maryland’s Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens on the Viral Running Man Challenge Dance Craze

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Basketball players Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens dance around the locker room as they often do after practice or a workout. Except this time, when the two Maryland guards posted the video captured by teammate Damonte Dodd, the dance went viral.

Image via Brantley’s Instagram

Sitting in Nickens’ bedroom, he and Brantley are more interested in the Miami vs. Charlotte basketball game in front of them than their still-growing Internet fame. Every inch of the walls is covered in posters; some feature basketball-related images and others show familiar pop culture faces like Rihanna and Taylor Swift. Two jar candles—blue and coral—flicker on a small table, filling the air with an artificial perfume. Sitting in this little room, the boys admit they never imagined the videos to escalate quite like this.

“I think the song has a lot to do with it,” Nickens said. “It’s really catchy. And I think that this is a weird dance to a weird song, like they don’t go together, which makes it crazy I guess.”

Whether it’s due to the catchy tune called “My Boo,” a 1996 hit from the Ghost Town DJ’s, the craze has been sweeping through sports teams across the country. Villanova followed in the Maryland players’ footsteps, after one of the guys tagged their player in the Instagram post of the dance as a challenge.

“Villanova came back, and they obviously are fresh off the national championship win so they have a lot of the public eye on them, so then they came back with a video and then they tagged some people too … and then it started blowing up and everyone was doing it,” Varun Ram, one of Nickens and Brantley’s teammates, explained.

Since then the dance has seen the locker rooms, courts and offices of Michigan State, the University of North Carolina, Louisville, Fordham, Wisconsin, Miami, Arizona, Michigan, Connecticut and Virginia Tech, and that’s just a handful of the teams on the college level.

“I would have to say [my favorite is] Virginia Tech with Seth [Allen],” Brantley said. “They started in the locker room, and in the middle of the video they were on the middle of the bus, and then the last part of it [Allen] came up from under the water. So I think that one was pretty funny.”

Joining in on the fun, professional teams and some sportscasters tried out the dance. Even Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow and Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert got in on the action to show off their moves. But the fame has spread beyond the world of sports.

“My mom called me yesterday saying we were on Good Morning America—the video was on Good Morning America,” Brantley said.

“With celebrities and athletes starting to do it, I think, I don’t see it dying down any time soon at this rate,” Nickens added.


It’s almost impossible to avoid the Running Man Challenge videos, especially with them popping up on television talk shows. Students often find them invading other media.

“I have seen more [videos] just through Facebook, coming up on my feed,” said Daniel Smith, a senior civil engineering major.

“I don’t remember who shared it on Facebook, but I just saw it on my Facebook feed,” Maddie Andreassi, a senior Spanish major, said.

While the boys at Maryland made the dance popular, they didn’t create it. The challenge arrived from one of Nickens’ “friends from back home” in New Jersey, Ram said. His friend had seen somebody else doing the dance and copied it, which is where Nickens then discovered the catchy tune. He and Brantley decided to try it out, with Brantley planning to hide in the laundry cart.

“It was [Brantley’s] idea,” Nickens said. “He told me to just push it, act like I was just pushing a cart, and he would jump out.”

From there the boys found new venues for their dance, from the middle of Route 1 to the checkout line at a 7/11 beneath the Varsity. They added gimmicks to the dance, such as jumping up off the couch, or having Nickens revive Brantley before he jumps up and starts the Running Man. Brantley’s favorite, however, is still that first video with the laundry cart.

Nickens prefers the video shot in his tiny bathroom, where the two of them cut Dodd’s hair before slapping the back of his neck. Dodd usually stays off-screen, filming the videos and adding the background commentary such as, “I like that. Gonna get you a lot of money!” and “That’s a lot of money!”

Jaylen Brantley, Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

“At first, I guess the coaches, I think they were not really happy about it,” Ram said, “[about] having that spotlight on our team not working out and being a little frivolous and dancing around. But I think they realized that actually, at the end of the day, it’s a positive thing, and they appreciated it.”

As for the coaches, there are some students who would love to see them in on the dance as well.

“I think it’d be cool if they did a whole team situation, or if they got like, Mark Turgeon in on it,” Andreassi said.  

While they don’t think the craze will last long enough for them to incorporate it into next year’s basketball season, Brantley and Nickens said they’re sure people will be asking them to do it at Maryland Day. 

These requests seem to come more and more often. When they aren’t creating videos, the song doesn’t go away. People are asking them to dance all the time, they said, and people will start playing the song when they’re around. Brantley admitted to being sick of hearing the song, but Nickens shrugged, mentioning that he knows the words to the entire song.

In any case, they plan to keep making the Running Man videos, at least until they release a new idea they’ve been working on.

“We have a new dance coming out, that we actually made up,” Brantley said.

“There’s two of them that we’re planning to release,” Nickens continued.

Jared Nickens, Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Their excitement shows as they smile and talk over each other, eager to put something online that they’ve created themselves in the wake of their Internet fame. As for whether their self-made dance will catch on?

“I think it will, not as big, but a lot of people will do it because it’s actually funny,” Nickens said.

Between hesitating and glancing at each other with a shared grin, it’s clear they’re unwilling to reveal too many more details just yet.

“There’s one song in particular that’s well known,” Nickens spilled. “Well, people don’t listen to it anymore, but when they hear it, they’ll know it. So probably it’ll catch a lot of attention.”

For now, they’re grateful for the support they have, and can’t wait to see where their temporary Internet fame takes them.

And, if you haven’t had the chance to see the video yet in full and have been living under Testudo’s shell, check out the dance craze here

Rebecca is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Maryland.She is a staff writer for Her Campus and Unwind magazine, a UMD publication. Originally from Pittsburgh, she is a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.  She hopes to go into feature writing after graduation.
Jaclyn is so excited to be a campus correspondent with Her Campus! She is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, double majoring in Journalism and American Studies. Jaclyn hopes to work as an editor at a magazine in the future. She loves following fashion, attending concerts, traveling, and photographing the world around her.