One position Coach Hazell & his staff did a decent job of recruiting was the running back spot.
It is arguably our deepest position, where I feel comfortable with the top 5 guys on our roster. It is a strange feeling, as we were always known to be a quarterback school. If our run game shows up this season and David Blough does well, we will have a pretty good offense.
In 2015, Markell Jones as a freshman took the team by storm. He was great, even after DJ Knox got hurt, he carried the workload of the team. But in 2016, he took a major step back. It seems as if he had a hurt shoulder early in the season and never got back to normal.
With an off-season to get healthy, I expected him to be at 100% for the spring season, but it seemed as if he was still a little banged up. He was RB4 in the spring game. Uh, so maybe the honeymoon is over. The new staff wants guys who are going to be play makers on the field. Being banged up isn’t allowing him to showcase his skills.
So what will the position look like overall?
Here is my best guess:
Tario Fuller - 6’, 195 Pounds, Sophomore RS
Tario started the spring game for our Boilers. He did really well too, against the number one defense. He is super quick and has great hips. He is the polar opposite of Jones and Knox, those two will run thru you. Tario will run around you. He was part of the fake flea flicker, and made a big run out of it.
D.J. Knox - 5’7”, 210 Pounds, Junior RS
DJ Knox has the potential to run away with this job. I think he could be the guy, but his biggest issue is that he hasn’t stayed healthy the past two seasons. He is literally a bowling ball. 5’7”, 210 pounds. He will run through you on any given moment.
Markell Jones - 5’11”, 210 Pounds, Junior
Markell is the incumbent for the job. He has been the starter for the past two seasons, but, he seems to be trending down this off season with the new staff. Coach Brohm owes him nothing, so we could see him put on the back burner for the remainder of the season. Or, maybe they are playing a sick trick on us all. They put him so far down on the depth chart to try and fool Louisville. Either way, the talent is there, it will show eventually.
Brian Lankford-Johnson - 6’, 195 Pounds, Sophomore
The speedy sophomore will get some playing time. He can make guys miss in the open field, but went down way to easy last season when he got hit.
Keyante Green - 5’9”, 230 Pounds, Senior RS
The lost man. Will he ever see the field again? He showed great potential early on, but nothing since.
Jack Wegher - 5’9”, 205 Pounds, Sophomore
More of a receiving type back, Jack will probably see the field mostly on special teams.
David Yancey - 5’10”, 215 Pounds, Senior RS
He played mostly on special teams throughout his career, probably the same thing this season.
Lane Beeler - 5’10”, 215 Pounds, Junior (Walk on)
A local walk on, he could see the field on special teams.
Big Back/Short Yardage/Get out of his way:
Richie Worship - 6’1”, 243 Pounds, Sophomore
The big back, he will be in for short yardage and to be the lead blocking back. The staff showcased him as a fullback in the spring game, a really good spot for him.
Derrick Barnes - 6’2”, 225 Pounds, Freshman
Probably a redshirt candidate, he could be in the same role as Worship, he is a big strong kid. Was recruited by many schools as a linebacker, maybe he could see a position switch this year.
Like I said, running backs is the deepest position on the team. We have plenty of guys to fill a role here and we should be good. But how good will they be if the offensive line is shaky? Only time will tell.