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Position Group Breakdown: Running Back

We know who the star is here.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Purdue knows what they have in Devin Mockobee. The former walk-on burst on to the scene last season, providing the Boilermakers with the running attack that had been missing since Markell Jones and DJ Knox graduated. The new offense will still utilize Mockobee’s running skills, but will also ask him to catch the ball more. It wouldn’t surprise me to see “Crazy Legs” in the top tier of yards from scrimmage, not only in the Big10, but also the nation.

After Devin, there are questions. Downing has been steady throughout his career, but hasn’t shown the ability to lead the charge. Tracy moved over from wide receiver last year, and is an intriguing option, but I was excited about him last year as well. I’ll wait and see how this move works out. I see him more as a gadget player than a guy that’s going to carry the load, but am happy to be proved wrong.

Mondrell Dean is a monster with nice feet. He reminds me of former Boiler back Richie Worship and could avoid a redshirt as a short yardage option. Out of everyone on the roster not named Devin Mockobee, Christian Womack may have the most potential as an every down back, but I wouldn’t expect to see him this season unless injuries start piling up.


Devin Mockobee - #45 - R-So. - 6’0”, 200

Mockobee came within striking distance of being the first Purdue running back since 20-8 to reach 1,000 yards in a season. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t get there. It’s important to remember though that he got to 968 rushing yards while not being the full-time starter to begin the year.

One of the first things Ryan Walters did when he arrived at Purdue was put this man on scholarship. That alone endeared Walters to the locker room and rightfully so. Why Jeff Brohm didn’t do this I’ll never know. I would expect Walters to go to Mockobee quite often this year with 1,000 yards being a main personal goal for Mockobee.

Back Ups

The Muscle

Dylan Downing - #22 - Sr. - 6’0”, 225

Downing is a running back you can trust. He’s a guy that, before the emergence of Mockobee, most of us would have been comfortable taking the starting role. In fact, he did just that last year for four games. The Carmel, IN product had 351 yards with another 100 yards as a receiver. Downing has the experience as well having appeared in 27 games throughout his Purdue career.

Should anything happen to Mockobee (throw some salt over your shoulder right now!) Downing is more than capable of stepping in. Plus at 225 pounds he’s got a little extra bulk when compared to Mockobee. In a perfect world Downing could be a change of pace back.

The Swiss Army Knife

Tyrone Tracy - #3 - Sr. - 6’1”, 210

Tracy came to Purdue from Iowa along with fellow Hawkeye Charlie Jones. Jones got all the ink last year, for good reason, but with Iowa having absolutely no idea what to do on offense, it makes sense for Purdue to snatch back some home grown talent. Tracy, the former Gatorade Player of the Year in Indianapolis, originally came to Purdue as a WR, but after a disappointing season, the new staff moved him back to high school position of running back. Tracy could also play a role on special teams whether that be returning punts, kickoffs, or both.

The Freshmen

Mondrell Dean - #23 - Fr. - 6’3”, 240

Mondrell Dean is a large human being. 6’3” and 240 as a freshman is enough to have you sit up and take notice. Playing any college football as a true freshman is tough. The physical nature and size and speed of your competitors is just a step up from what you’ve seen as a player in high school. Dean may have the size and strength to step into a situational role with the Boilermakers.

I understand that the fullback position is basically dead at this moment in time, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some use for a big strong running back. If Dean shows an ability to block he could give the staff an exciting wrinkle to throw out there. In addition, a goal line or 4th and short situation becomes a lot easier if you believe in your 240 pound running back to bulldoze his way in. We may see Dean make an impact on these situations this season.

Christian Womack - #29 - Fr. - 6’0”, 180

As large as Dean is, Womack is just about the opposite. Womack shows as 60 pounds lighter on the official roster. Womack comes to Purdue from Tomball, Texas where he put up absolutely gonzo numbers during his senior season. He ran for 2,111 yards, 26 touchdowns, on just 297 carries. In the state of Texas. Those are just incredibly impressive numbers.

Womack likely won’t see a ton of action this year, and if he does, that means he’s either done something incredibly impressive or Purdue’s running back room has seen a similar rash of injuries to last season, which isn’t something anyone wants. That’s no slight on Womack as he’s got a great career ahead of him, it’s simply a look at the numbers as we know them now.