Recruiting Overview: Part Four

In the fourth installment of recruiting overviews, we take a look at the running backs. Read about which immediate needs at running back exist for 2008 and beyond, if any, and what running back recruits you can expect to sign with BYU this coming year.

Originally, some thought that because offensive coordinator Robert Anae was bringing the Texas Tech offensive system to BYU, the team would subsequently cut down on the number of scholarships allocated to running backs. Seeing that the Red Raiders run primarily and almost exclusively from a one-back set, many assumed such would be the case at BYU.

But as Anae and the coaching staff observed the talent on the team, they built their scheme around that talent, calling for two-back sets most of the time. With another set of experienced and talented RBs returning for 2007 and then again in 2008, look for BYU to continue running its offense out of a two-back set in the near future.

Well-Stocked for 2007 and 2008

Entering the next two seasons, BYU is set at the running back position with good depth and talent. Both Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga will be entering 2008 as starters, with likely two more years of significant playing time for each. There looks to be no need to immediately supplement the RB ranks with the 2008 recruiting class.

Such names as Harvey Unga, Wayne Latu, Ryan Folsom, David Foote, Inoke Hafoka and incoming prep phenom J.J. DiLuigi should suffice in adding quality depth, while looking to take over for Vakapuna and Tonga in the future. The running back position is very much in good shape for the next couple of seasons.

Power vs. "Scat"

As mentioned earlier, the thought was that BYU would utilize a single-back offense during Anae's duration as offensive coordinator. So far that hasn't proved to be the case. This past spring saw the migration to even more two-back sets, with the offensive line's splits becoming tighter and tighter.

With guys like Vakapuna and Unga as your primary backs, it would seem logical to put a quality FB such as Tonga in front of him. Anae is playing to his team's strengths, leading to an offense that is very much unique and not all that similar to Texas Tech's spread offense.

So what does BYU recruit for? Will the thought be to recruit for a single-back offense or continue with two backs for the future?

DiLuigi vs. Bruner

The comparison between one back signed last year and the first running back committed for this coming year exemplifies the different style of backs discussed above. J.J. DiLuigi would seem to be the perfect fit for a "scat-back" type who can thrive in a single-back system, catching the ball as well as running it primarily off the edges.

Jerry Bruner, meanwhile, would follow in the same vein as Fui Vakapuna or a Harvey Unga. Bruner has very good speed, but would seem better suited to run out of a two-back set. Both Bruner and primarily DiLuigi should dictate to a large degree what type of sets BYU runs out of in the near future.


It's become apparent that BYU will simply recruit the best RB talent out there and then build their offense accordingly. With Bruner on board at 6 feet 3 inches and 225 pounds, and an offer on the table for backs such as Sausan Shakerin, it would seem apparent that Anae and company are very much interested in continuing the employment of "power backs."

Regardless of where BYU goes in allocating its scholarships to running backs in the future, they're well-stocked for the coming years. No immediate needs exist at the position. If DiLuigi has the impact most expect of him as a true freshman and soon thereafter, then the need for help at the position goes down even further.

With that in mind, look for BYU to sign as many as two running backs this coming year to go along with Bruner, who may end up playing linebacker while at BYU. While the team has adequate talent and depth at running back during the next two years, they'll want to get in good young talent to develop so they can fill in after 2008 when Unga and DiLuigi look to be the main options.

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