Hagan Wants More Physical Running Game

New running backs coach Darian Hagan wants the CU ballcarriers to develop a more physical approach to running the ball beginning next week. Inside, a preview of the Colorado running backs. Hagan tells the BSN what he expects from the ground attack.

Unlike their teammates at most other positions, the contingent of CU running backs will be working under a new coach, but one with a familiar face this spring. Darian Hagan has been with the team two seasons (he was a technical intern in 2004, and worked with the wide receivers as an offensive assistant coach in 2005), but was given the running backs coach job by Dan Hawkins in late December.

And unlike most of his colleagues, Hagan is very familiar with the players he'll be tutoring through spring ball. They include returning juniors Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis, two tailbacks who carried the bulk of the ground game, gaining 1,056 yards between them in 2005.

Hagan sees room for improvement for both Charles, the speedster, and Ellis, the slasher.

"I want those guys to be more physical," Hagan told the BSN last month.

Charles started out 2005 in impressive fashion, but, particularly after a high-ankle sprain midway through the fall, wore down a bit. Hagan has plans to instill more north/south style of running for the entire group of running backs, which includes 10 players.

"I think by coaching those type of drills where you've got to go downhill, and just doing little things, they'll understand that a north-and-south runner is going to be more successful than an east-west runner," he said.

One intriguing player Hagan will coach is senior Mell Holliday. The transfer from Wayne State (Neb.), and Nebraska absolutely blew up during August camp last year. In one midweek practice, the squatty Holliday barreled through the CU defense like a bowling ball on several carries and put himself squarely in the mix for playing time. But the NCAA ruled he had to sit out a season because he had transferred from the University of Nebraska, where he attended classes for a year-and-a-half, but wasn't a member of the football team.

Kevin Moyd came to Colorado as a true freshman in 2005 with good running instincts and high expectations, but spent the fall learning there's more to being a Big 12 tailback than toting the rock. He'll have the opportunity to prove he's able to help in protection and catch the ball out of the backfield beginning next week.

The clock is ticking for tailback Brandon Caesar, who's career at CU has been marred by a series of injuries (turf toe, shoulder sprain, chronic knee issues). At one point a few seasons back, Caesar was poised to make a run at a starting position. But those plans were derailed by bad knees. He's missed both the 2004 and 2005 seasons, but has been cleared to participate this spring. Reggie Foster moved to tailback from safety last fall, but didn't get a lot of reps. He's still a big unknown.

Another unknown to watch is fullback Samson Jagoras, a burly 5-10, 225-pound back who transferred to CU last year from Western New Mexico. Jagoras practiced mostly at inside linebacker – the position he played at WNMU — until moving to fullback late last fall and earning the praise of teammates.

Meanwhile redshirt-freshman Jake Behrens will get a chance to impress Hagan at fullback. If Jagoras and Behrens can prove they're ready to hold down the fullback position, senior Paul Creighton will likely devote his talents solely to tight end after bouncing between the two spots the past two seasons.

The Roster
Jake Behrens, FB, R-Fr., 5-11, 235*
@Career stats: Has not played.

Brandon Caesar, TB, Sr., 6-0, 205
Career stats: 9 games, 8-21 yards

Hugh Charles, TB, Jr., 5-8, 185
Career stats: 23 games, RUSH — 193-891/4.6, 6 TD; REC — 27-234, 1 TD

Paul Creighton, FB/TE, Sr., 6-5, 250
Career stats: No rushes or receptions.

Byron Ellis, TB, Jr., 6-0, 205
Career stats: 21 games, RUSH — 94-277/2.9; REC — 7-73

Reggie Foster, TB, R-Fr., 5-11, 190
Career stats: Has not played.

&Matt Garratt, R-Fr., 5-10, 220
Career stats: Has not played.

&Mell Holliday, TB, Sr., 5-8, 205
Career stats: Has not played.

&Samson Jagoras, FB, Jr., 5-10, 225
Career stats: Has not played.

Kevin Moyd, TB, R-Fr., 5-8, 185
Career stats: Has not played.

Players lost: Brendan Schaub, Lawrence Vickers.

*Vitals for all players are per CU SID as of March 6.
@ Career stats do not include bowl game appearances.
& Walk-on.

BuffStampede Top Stories