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Arizona’s running back situation is pretty straight forward as it currently stands.
Nick Wilson and Orlando Bradford are returning and will get the majority of the carries, but there is still some intrigue there.
Wilson has yet to prove that he can play an entire season and stay healthy, as he hasn’t done that since high school.
If Wilson could stay healthy, this wouldn’t be much of a conversation because he would get the majority of the carries.
However, it is difficult to have any type of confidence in Wilson’s health and the coaching staff isn’t going to give him a heavy workload.
That means that Orlando Bradford is going to have a heck of an opportunity and if the spring was any indication, he could take that opportunity and run with it.
Bradford’s biggest issue last season was that he had difficulty blocking and the coaching staff simply trusted Jared Baker more.
With baker gone, Bradford is now likely to gain that trust. He showed flashes last season in his limited carries and this season will be a big opportunity for him.
Bradford is very similar to Wilson in his running style, so there wouldn’t be much of a change of pace like there was when Arizona put Baker in last season.
It’s for that very reason why we think J.J. Taylor may be overlooked entering his freshman year.
We’ve talked about this before, but Taylor was one of Rich Rodriguez’s favorite recruits and he took a personal interest in landing him.
Taylor’s size leaves some concern for whether or not he will be ready to play right away, but those concerns are diminished if he is just going to be used as a change of pace back.
In addition, Taylor may automatically become the best pass-catching running back on Arizona’s roster.
Basically, Taylor is what Arizona is waiting for Tyrell Johnson to become. Maybe Taylor’s role is harder to come by if Johnson shows he can be used in a variety of ways, but it is a believe it when we see it type of thing.
Maybe the most intriguing part of the spring as it relates to running backs was the performance of Branden Leon.
Leon’s teammates spoke highly of him and he was higher on the depth chart when Arizona had its public scrimmage.
The reality is that neither Leon nor Zach Green is going to get carries at Arizona unless something dramatic happens.
Arizona has plenty of depth at running back and it would wind up being one of the stronger positions if Bradford is able to make a big jump as expected.