The stable of running backs that University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino has to choose from possesses a range of options and abilities that could rival the best groups in the ACC and beyond.
Highlighted by seniors Dominique Brown, the team's leading rusher from 2013, and Michael Dyer, a two-time 1,000-yard gainer while at Auburn, the Cardinals backfield is deep and poised to be intrigal part of the offense.
“They're in great shape,” Petrino said. “They are seeing things, they are making cuts and they are working hard on their explosion.”
Brown had a pair of 100-yard outings en route to a season total of 825 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior. At 6-foot-2, 235-pounds, the Cincinnati native is the biggest back in a room that boasts of varying strengths.
“We all specialize in something different,” Brown explained. “We all bring something different to the table. It's going to be hard to be on the opposite side of the ball because they might not know which guy to prepare for or who is going to get the bulk of the carries.”
Brown and Scott (6'0, 230) bring a bit of punch upon impact, while Dyer, Radcliff and Lamb are more elusive and explosive through a gap.
This fall, they will each also be called upon to catch the ball a few more times than in previous years.
“I'm looking forward to that,” Brown said. “Coach Smith does a great job with us in individual work getting us ready for the passing game.”
All five have received reps with the first team during fall camp and all are expected to play this season.
“It's an unbelievable group,” U of L running backs coach Kolby Smith. “I love the hunger in each and every one of those guys.”
Michael Dyer, senior
Following a season with limited action and nagging injuries, Michael Dyer was running the best he has since arriving at Louisville. While he suffered a minor injury during fall camp and is currently day-to-day, the senior, if he remains healthy, could finish the 2014 season as the team's leading rusher.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” Petrino said of the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Little Rock, Ark., native prior to the injury.
During his two years at Auburn, Dyer was the next big thing.
As a freshman he broke Bo Jackson's Auburn freshman rushing record, gaining 1,093 yards. He capped his first year by running for 143 yards and earning the BCS Offensive MVP award. He led the Tigers in rushing, and ranked 20th nationally, with 1,242 yards as a sophomore.
He appeared in 8 games last season, rushing for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns on 44 carries.
Corvin Lamb, junior
The redshirt junior from Miami (Fla.) Northwestern was set to be in the running back rotation last fall until he suffered a torn ACL early in the Cardinals second game of the season.
After months of rehab, Lamb returned to action this fall and has shown no signs of being slowed by the injury.
“Corvin is looking good,” running backs Kolby Smith said. “He's fast, he's strong.”
The fastest player on the the Cardinals roster, Lamb is explosive when a gap opens and he's potentially lethal when catching the ball out of the backfield.
***L.J. Scott could also see some action at the fullback position. He's proven effective against the pass rush during camp and it also provides an additional pass catcher.
***Michael Dyer suffered a thigh contusion when tackled low during practice last week. Petrino said the staff will have a better understanding of his potential availability later in the week and the he “hopes” he'll be ready for the team's opener against Miami.