The University of Louisville football program lost a pair of running backs to graduation that had 100-yard games last season. Most of the time, that would mean a lack of depth coming back.
But not for the Cardinals.
The running back position is as deep as any on the team and still has two players who also had 100-yard games from last season and running backs Kolby Smith said he "really likes" the talent in his room.
"They know they have to be the rock of the team," Smith said. "Our motto around here is run to win. It doesn't matter what quarter of the game it is we just have to do what we're supposed to do – get first downs and score touchdowns."
Junior Brandon Radcliff, who led the Cardinals with 737 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, is going to be the starter and U of L coach Bobby Petrino has said he could be the face of the program.
Sophomore L.J. Scott, who ran for 100 yards in a win against Murray State, is a solid back-up along with junior-college transfer Jeremy Smith, who ran for 1,735 yards last season at his JUCO and averaged 8.5 yards a carry.
Corvin Lamb is back after suffering a knee injury that ended his season a year ago, while Malin Jones and Darius Skinner are adequate walk-ons and Trey Smith is a true freshmen.
"I'm so excited about this running back corps," Radcliff said. "We all come out and make each other better, we push each other every single day. The competition makes us all better at the end of the day."
Brandon Radcliff, Junior
Sure, he's the starter and led the team in rushing last season. But this will be a breakout for Radcliff, who could become the team's offensive MVP and put himself into position for postseason awards.
The 5-foot-9, 225-pound Radcliff is a powerful, smart back.
After 90 yards on 16 carries and one TD two years ago, Radcliff started last season down on the depth chart. But he ran for 97 yards and two TDs in the second game against Murray State and kept it going all season.
Radcliff had three 100-yard games, including 136 yards and one TD in a win at Notre Dame. He said he's stronger and ready for a better season on the field as a junior.
"Brandon is giving us that energy," Petrino said. "He's kind of like the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going and gives you everything he has every play. I have a lot of respect for him."
Jeremy Smith, Junior
The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Smith was a late catch by the U of L staff and picked the Cardinals over Alabama in the end. He was here in spring ball and is adjusted to the program.
Smith is sensational with the ball in his hands.
At Fresno City Community College, Smith averaged 158 yards a game last season as he ran for 1,735 yards and 17 TDs. He had two 400-yard games as a high school player in Hammond, La.
Smith has speed but also has the power and size to be very good in the U of L offense.
***L.J. Scott ran for 201 yards last season, including 126 against Murray State, and had a solid spring.
***Malin Jones played at Northwestern but opted to leave there and walk-on at Louisville. He's not your typical walk-on and could see a lot of reps this season, including at fullback.
***Fullback Griffin Uhl, who is now on scholarship, is one of the strongest players on the team.
***Freshman Trey Smith is the son of former Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro wide receiver Jimmy Smith.
***Walk-on Darius Skinner had a really nice spring and made some big plays. He could see a little spot duty at the end of games.
***Check out from today a video about the running back position and also the feature on Brandon Radcliff and returning star Corvin Lamb, who is back from injury.
***Our seventh day of the position series comes with a look at the defensive line position.