2003 Outlook: RB

Running back Willis McGahee had an impressive 2002 season gaining 1753 yards on the ground and scoring a school-record 28 touchdowns. His impressive sophomore season came to an end after a knee injury in the championship game last season. Willis declared for the NFL draft and his flashy running style will be missed in the Hurricanes backfield. However, in the past five years when one great Hurricane running back leaves another one steps in. This year is no different.

A once anticipated battle for starting running back is down to just one guy, Frank Gore.

Frank Gore who was projected to start last year at tailback for the Hurricanes until he injured his knee will be back this season ready to contribute, ready to dominate. Gore was a highly touted recruit out of Goral Gables as he ran for a Dade-County record 2,953 yards and 35 touchdowns during his senior season. He is considered as a strong speed-back with good vision. In his freshman year in 2001, he averaged a remarkable 9.1 yards per carry while rushing for 562 yards as the backup for Clinton Portis. Gore is looking to be the next great recent Hurricane running back behind Edgerrin James, James Jackson, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee.

Gore's shoulder was somewhat of a concern this spring as he missed practice time along with the spring game. When he has practiced, he has looked remarkable. Coach Coker is impressed with Frank Gore's recovery with his knee injury and should be ready to go in August.

Senior Jarrett Payton had a rough spring. His two fumbles during the spring game were disappointing along with his 15-carry, 15-yard output. A nine-yard gain helped his dismal performance but without that carry he gained only six yards in 14 attempts. Not exactly the type of performance the coaching staff was looking for. Jarrett has gained 511 yards in his career with three touchdowns.

Payton's performance this spring has opened the door for incoming freshman Tyrone Moss from Pompano Beach. Moss is a 5-10 210-pound running back with explosiveness, great vision and his ability to break tackles. Tyrone will be given the opportunity to play as a true freshman. With Gore's recent injury problems and Payton's less than spectacular efforts, he will need to come into the fall season in great playing shape. There are not many true freshmen in the country that will have the opportunity to play right away, especially at a top program.

The Hurricanes return their starting fullback from a year ago in Quadtrine Hill. Hill started all 13 games last year gaining just 16 yards on the ground but was used as a viable option out of the backfield catching 14 passes for 184 yards. Quadtrine is a solid blocker and with his speed he gives the Canes one more option on offense.

Kyle Cobia from Lakeland, Florida is a solid blocking fullback. Cobia's Lakeland high school team went 61-2 in his four years there. He injured his shoulder last season and is looking to recover in time for the fall season. His strengths as a fullback are utilized in goal-line formations.

The other reserve fullback is Talib Humphrey. Humphrey had a great spring, which was showcased in the spring game by leading all rushers with 40 yards on 7 carries (5.7 average). His 14-yard outburst was very impressive as he showed good speed and the ability to break tackles. Humphrey is a transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College.

These six running backs look to form a strong rushing attack for the Hurricanes in the upcoming season. Each one brings something different to the table and they will be counted on throughout the season in different roles. Expect the Miami Hurricanes to utilize their strength by running the ball in the 2003 campaign.

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