2008 Preview: Running Backs

The Buffs were a mediocre 68th in the country in rushing in 2007. Can an influx of talent at tailback help boost that number in 2008?

While it's not quite accurate to call him a workhorse, the Buffs will have to replace Hugh Charles' production this fall. Charles led the team in rushing each of the past three seasons, and left the program No. 2 on CU's career all-purpose yards (3,622 yards) and No. 6 on its rushing list (2,659).

Now most fans' eyes turn to true freshman Darrell Scott, certainly the most heralded recruit at Colorado since Marcus Houston signed on the dotted line as part of the 2000 class. But don't expect Scott to waltz into Boulder and be handed the starting tailback job. Not if sophomores Brian Lockridge and Demetrius Sumler, and freshman Ray Polk have anything to say about the situation.

Sumler, the 220-pound back with a good forward lean, is the team's returning rushing leader after he picked up 335 yards last fall. Word is, he's motivated to push for a starting position after all the hype the incoming tailbacks have received. Lockridge should be ready to go after spring hernia surgery. His quickness and the fact he's good as a receiver out of the backfield will get him on the field once again this fall.

But let's not kid ourselves. Scott has a rare combination of speed (he'll either be among the team's fastest player, or be the one to beat in a foot race), size and vision that makes him special. There will be blocking schemes to learn, and Scott will have to get used to the speed and physical nature of the Big 12. Still, don't expect CU offensive coaches to leave his kind of talent on the bench.

Scott will play and play a lot this fall. If Lamont Warren's Colorado record of rushing yards for a freshman – he put up 830 yards in 1991 – isn't in jeopardy, something's gone awry.

Also look for Polk, Scott's classmate, to see action in the backfield this fall. Polk is a sleek 190 pounds, and he turned veteran heads with his speed as soon as he started participating in this summer's voluntary football workouts in Boulder.

Freshman Rodney Stewart has the kind of shiftiness that's hard to ignore. Kevin Moyd, the junior who's contributed mostly on special teams the past couple of years, and sophomore Corey Nabors will also provide competition. The Buffs will use a combination of Jake Behrens and Maurice Cantrell, as well as a handful of tight ends, as blockers in the backfield.

Including the bowl game, Colorado produced just 144 yards per game last season, ranking the Buffs 68th in the country in that statistic. The Buffs' average per rushing play, 3.87 yards, was below par.

Despite all the attention paid to quarterbacks the Big 12 passing attacks these days, the league's four top teams a year ago — Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas — all averaged more than 4.6 yards a pop. The Buffs need to improve their rushing output if they are to compete for the Big 12 North going forward. With the type of talent the team is amassing both in the backfield and up front, it's a good bet to happen. How quickly it happens is still up in the air.

The Roster
Jake Behrens, Jr., FB, 6-0, 235
9 G, 5 Att., 33 Yds.
Matt Burgner, So., FB, 5-11, 220
Maurice Cantrell, Sr., FB, 6-0, 245
24 G, 2 Rec., 38 Yds.
Arthur Jaffee, R-Fr., TB, 5-11, 205
Brian Lockridge, So., TB, 5-7, 180
8 G, 38 Att., 213 Yds, 1 TD
Kevin Moyd, Jr, TB, 5-7, 185
6 G, 4 Att., 16 Yds.
Corey Nabors, So., TB, 5-9, 185
Ray Polk, Fr., TB,6-1, 200
Darrell Scott, Fr., TB, 6-2, 215
Rodney Stewart, Fr., TB, 5-6, 170
Demetrius Sumler, So., TB, 5-10, 220
11 G, 190 Att., 335 Yds., 4 TD, 6 Rec., 41 Yds., 1 TD

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