In the second part of our position series, we will take a look at the running backs who will fill the big shoes of Terrance Ganaway. With the Bears having consecutive 1,000 yard rushers for the first time since 1974-75 when Steven Beaird and Cleveland Franklin., can the Bears backfield make it 3 in a row? The only thing that might be standing in the way of it is the depth at the position. In 2010, Jay Finley had 195 carriers compared to just 46 for the second running back, Ganaway. In 2011, Ganaway led the Bears with 250 rushing attempts, while Jarred Salubi had just 58. Will the Bears have another work-horse style running game, or will it be more of a committee approach than what we have seen the past few years?
This is a 3-horse race right now for carries. The leader after spring practice is the senior from Waco, Jarred Salubi. While he is the most experienced of the three, he has just 844 career rushing yards for the Bears. Last season, he showed up on the depth chart as the "Utility Back". I don't know what that means, but this year, Salubi finds himself at the top of the depth chart at the more traditional position of running back.
Salubi has seen some ups and downs with the Bears during his tenure. His freshman season was marked with big plays, good and bad. He had a 76 yard touchdown run against Northwestern State for his first touchdown, but he struggled with fumbles, dropped passes and some of the basics of the running back position. Throughout the past few seasons though, he has turned himself into a more complete running back. Though his receptions have decreased every season (14, 6, and 4), he runs good routes, though he struggles to catch balls that come over his head, especially on wheel routes. Jarred has also put on more muscle during his time at Baylor and this should allow him to have more carriers and take more hits. It should also allow him to run between the tackles, something that has not been asked of him much so far.
Backing up Salubi at the running back position is Lache Seastrunk, the former 5-star recruit by way of Oregon. The Sophomore transfer is looking to get onto the field for his home team Bears, and certainly made an impression during the spring game. Seastrunk had 138 rushing yards in the scrimmage to lead the Bears, including a sensational 75-yard run that highlighted his elite speed. Lache simply outran the defense (first team by the way). I like to gauge speed in terms of out-running defenders with good angles on the play. Lache did that to the corner and the safety on that side of the field easily. He is a special talent athletically.
The question for Lache though is his ability to run in between the tackles. Throughout his high school career, he would always " bounce out" and simply outrun the defense. You cannot do that in major college football consistently, and Seastrunk will have to learn that. Also, will he be able to run through the tackles and challenge the inside of the defense. Finally, will he be able to operate in the offense and fully know the scheme. He is the newest of the three in the program, so how much will he be able to do?
The third and final running back competing for the top spot is Glasco Martin. He has inherited the Utility Back spot from Jarred Salubi, but he is definitely a different type of back than what we have seen from Salubi. Martin is a big, physical running back, much more like Terrance Ganaway. He is listed at 215 pounds, but he runs much more like 230 pounds. Martin has overcome quite a bit to simply be in the conversation for the top spot. During his redshirt freshman year, he severely injured his knee late in the year. This hampered him substantially in 2010, making his first appearance in the week 5 blowout of Kansas.
Last season, he was given a larger role, but was still relegated to mop up duty for most of the season. Martin finished with over 250 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. While I really like Martin as a runner, he has not shown a lot of ability in the passing game, either has a receiver or as a pass protector. Several times during the spring game, Martin failed to pick up the blitzed and protect his quarterback. This is not something the Baylor scheme has had to worry about the past few seasons, due to a certain electric quarterback who could bail you out of those situations. I expect a few more pass protection responsibilities to be assigned to the running backs this year, and Martin has some work to do in this area. Concerning his pass catching, I have no idea if he can do this. I do not think I noticed him run a single pass route in his time in Waco.
While these three are the going to get the bulk of the carries this year, there is some young talent on campus and on the way. Currently on campus is 2011 signee and redshirt freshman B.J. Allen. Allen is a speed back that is a little undersized. He used his redshirt season to hopefully get stronger, as that is his biggest area of need. He simply needs to get strong for the rigors of Big XII play. However, he has plenty of speed and shiftiness to get the job done. This year, he probably won't get a ton of chances with the three guys ahead of them fighting for chances, but Allen might be able to make a name for himself with some packages and also in the return game. He is down the depth chart at both returns spots, but I think he could have some excellent abilities there.
Allen will have some company coming in from the 2012 recruiting class expected to hit campus this summer, and from someone that brings a completely different skill set to the position. While Allen is more of a speed back, Chafin will asked to fill a different type of role with the Bears. At already over 200 pounds and with great power in his running style, the freshman to be will be groomed to fill the larger shoes of predecessors Terrance Ganaway and Glasco Martin, the role of the big-bruising back. Expected to redshirt this year, Chafin will have time to learn the role he is being groomed for, and get used to the higher level of competition.
With just 5 runnings backs for next year, and one of the those finalizing his eligibility after the season, the Bears had to hit the recruiting trail to get more talent to the position. They did that early in the 2013 recruiting process, getting a verbal commitment from Johnny Jefferson, a 3-star running back from Killeen, TX. The one-time Texas A&M commitment gave his verbal to the Bears in early March. The big-play threat is more of a every down type runner, compared to Chafin and Allen, and big things are expected of him.
Current Depth Chart:
Running Back 1. Jared Salubi - 5-9, 210, Senior
Running Back 2. Lache Seastrunk, 5-10, 205, Sophomore
Utility Back 1. Glasco Martin, 6-1, 215, Junior
Utility Back 2. B.J Allen, 5-10, 175, Redshirt Freshman
1. Devin Chafin - 6-0, 200, 3-star (83rd ranked Running Back)
2013 Recruits Offered:
1. Johnny Jefferson (COMMIT)- 5-11, 190, 3-star (48th ranked Running Back)
2. Adam Taylor - 6-0, 190, 4-star (31st ranked Running Back)
3. Jatavious Stewart - 5-11, 184, Juco Not Ranked
Position Preview - Running Back
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