On paper, BYU's running back position may be the most talented position group on the entire team. It's not impossible to fathom that 4 players on the 2014 squad could be considered as BYU's top running back. That depth should yield positive results as the players who end up on the playing field will have to produce or give way to another back that can produce the results desired.
Jamaal Williams is BYU's lead back heading into 2014. Williams racked up 1,233 yards on 217 carries in 2013 and will be expected to shoulder the load as he enters his junior season. Williams began 2013 with a bang with over 30 touches against Virginia and Texas. He suffered a concussion against Utah and after that game he only averaged 19.5 touches a game in the final 8 games of the season. Considering Williams' ability as a runner, it is expected that he will see his number of touches go up in 2014. Williams has bulked up, recently weighing in at 207-pounds according to BYU Running Backs Coach Mark Atuaia, to better deal with the physical demands of being BYU's feature back.
Paul Lasike and Algernon Brown will play extensive roles in 2014 for the Cougars. Both are big backs who are not afraid to run over a defender. BYU's offense needs a more physical presence in 2014 and having running backs like Brown and Lasike to pick up tough yards will be critical.
Adam Hine's role on the field remains to be seen. Hine was not able to practice in spring due to offseason surgery so he'll have to earn his reps when fall camp commences. It is expected that he will retain his kickoff return duties after having a standout year in 2013. Another back who figures to be in the mix will be Nate Carter, who made a positive impression in spring ball. A.J. Moore is another name to keep an eye on as he didn't make much noise in spring ball but will look to have a solid fall camp in hopes of playing his way onto the field. Iona Pritchard recently graduated from BYU and elected to transfer to play his senior season at Oregon State.
Jamaal Williams returns for his junior campaign after leading BYU running backs in rushing his freshman and sophomore seasons. Williams has bulked up to better deal with the rigors of being the lead back for BYU, weighing in at 207-pounds during spring ball. Williams said he'd like to gain a bit more weight but the worry is him losing his speed if he gains too much weight. To help offset this worry, Williams joined the BYU track team this spring to run the 100 and 200-meters. Williams, who is already 10th all-time in rushing at BYU, will look to have a repeat 1,000 yard season and should set himself up to become BYU's all-time leading rusher as a senior in 2015.
Paul Lasike was a relative unknown when he was invited to try out for the BYU football team in 2012. Lasike took some time to learn the nuances of the running back position but enjoyed a standout junior season, tallying 350 yards and a touchdown on the year. Lasike's bruising running style has both his teammates and opponents alike fear having to tackle him. A 3-time National Champion and All-American for BYU's Rugby Team, Lasike will look to use his senior season as a springboard to the professional ranks as a fullback.
Algernon "Algie" Brown burst onto the scene last fall camp when he made a run during a scrimmage that left multiple defenders on their backs and wondering what had just hit them. He enters his sophomore season looking to have a bigger role in BYU's offense after running for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2013, mainly seeing time in mop-up duty. Brown was just off his LDS mission last season and will be in better shape to make an impact for BYU in 2014
Adam Hine was an electrifying kick return specialist for BYU in 2013. He had a couple returns called back that would have been touchdowns as well as contributing in a reserve role at running back, running for 224 yards and a touchdown in 2013. Hine had offseason surgery so he was unable to participate in spring ball, which leaves him in limbo in terms of where he stands on the depth chart. Hine will need to have a strong fall camp to regain his position on the depth chart and find time on the field as a junior.
Nate Carter is running fourth on the depth chart for BYU right now at running back. Carter showed glimpses of his ability during spring ball two years ago but really burst onto the scene during this past spring practice, showing an ability to find holes and gash the defense for touchdown after touchdown. He was also a reliable target out the backfield in the passing game. Carter's heroics in spring ball have to be taken with a grain of salt but he should find himself on the field more often in 2014.
AJ Moore has been a name kicked around by BYU fans since he returned from his mission. He saw action against Idaho State in 2013, tallying 2 carries for 19 yards in that game. Moore sat out of spring camp and will need to make an impression in fall camp if he hopes to see anything more than mop-up duty in 2014.
Iona Pritchard was once a much-heralded prospect who seemed poised to be the next great BYU fullback until he suffered a gruesome ankle injury during fall camp in 2011. Pritchard worked his way back into shape but with the shift to Robert Anae's Go Fast, Go Hard offense Pritchard was a man without a true position. He saw action at both fullback and H-back for BYU in 2013. Pritchard graduated from BYU this spring and elected to use the NCAA graduate transfer rule to move on and will play out his eligibility at Oregon State alongside his younger brother, Baker, who transferred upon his return from his mission this past winter.
Other names to keep an eye on will be walk-on Jeremiah Burr, who showed flashes in spring ball, and fellow walk-on Marcus Case. Both are local products, Burr a graduate of Timpview High School and Case a graduate of Springville High School.
Future Depth at Running Back
The BYU coaching staff has hit the recruiting trail hard looking to find athletes to bring in as part of the 2015 recruiting class to groom as the replacements for Jamaal Williams and company. The staff has offered Central Catholic (Portland, OR) star Cameron Scarlett, Robinson (TX)'s La'Vonte Owens. They also have been recruiting Kennedale (Kennedale, TX) prospect Juwan Washington, Maple Mountain (UT)'s Cole Casper, Desert Hills (UT)'s Bridger Cowdin, American Fork (UT)'s Lopini Katoa, and Queens Creek (AZ)'s Weston Barlow. They were recruiting Apopka (FL) RB/FB Chandler Cox, but Cox recently committed to Auburn. Roosevelt (Portland, OR) athlete Kimane Domena is also a candidate to end up as a running back if he is able to qualify to attend BYU. He has committed to BYU but his scholarship is pending his ability to qualify and meet some other benchmarks from BYU coaches.
In the 2016 class BYU is in contact with St. John Bosco (CA) back Sean McGrew and Cardinal Hayes (NY) prospect Timothy Poindexter. 2017 prospect Sione Heimuli-Lund from Brighton (UT) high school plays running back but looks like he'll end up on the defensive side of the ball at the next level.
2014 BYU Running Back Depth Chart
Starter: Jamaal Williams
Starter: Paul Lasike