Spring Preview: Running Backs

Spring football starts March 3rd at the University of Miami so lets take a closer look at what the team will look like. Today, we look at the running back position.

Coach: Terry Richardson enters his second season on Miami's staff.

Lost: The Hurricanes lost Lamar Miller, who was one of Miami's best players last season. He and Tommy Streeter were clearly the two best players on Miami's offense last season. He finished his three-year career here with 1,918 yards rushing, 181 yards receiving, 376 yards on kickoff returns, and 17 total touchdowns. He wasn't great between the tackles but he had tremendous breakaway speed that the Canes will miss in the spring. Darion Hall, who played in just one game in two seasons at Miami, is not on the spring roster and it looks like he'll be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Coming Back: The Hurricanes return two running backs and one fullback. Mike James and Eduardo Clements provided depth behind Miller last season. Maurice Hagens returns as the team's starting fullback. C.J. Holton, a former linebacker, has been moved to fullback to provide depth there.

The Players:
James (5-11/220) returns for his senior season. In three years as a backup, James has rushed for 719 yards and 11 touchdowns on 157 carries. He served as the team's short yardage back for most of the 2011 season. He's also a skilled pass-catcher, with 37 career receptions for 241 yards and two scores. James was also a good return man early in his career, taking 19 returns back for 404 yards.

Clements (5-9/195) returns for his junior season. In limited playing time through his first two seasons, Clements has gained 114 yards on 23 carries. He's also the team's best pass-catcher out of the backfield, with 15 grabs for 172 yards. Clements also has 195 yards on 10 kickoff returns through two seasons.

Dallas Crawford (5-9/195) used the 2011 season as a redshirt year at safety. He was named the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year after the season. He's expected to get a crack at running back in the spring, although it's unclear which spot will be his longterm position.

Hagens (5-11/240) returns for his junior season and his second as the team's starting fullback. Hagens carried the ball just seven times for 21 yards last season but also caught six passes for 57 yards.

Holton (6-1/230) spent his first three seasons at Miami on defense, playing both safety and more recently, linebacker. Holton was moved to fullback following the 2011 season and will serve as the backup to Hagens.

What to Expect: Hagens has the fullback job secured and is a solid player there. With just two scholarship running backs in the spring, look for Clements and James to get a lot of action. Clements is the smaller, faster, and more all-around athletic of the two. James is the bigger, stronger, and more physical of the two. They should complement each other nicely. James has more overall experience but Clements had just as big a role at the end of last season so it'll be interesting to see which of the two emerges from spring practice as the top guy. Crawford seems to be there for depth purposes, and could end up being back at safety in the fall.

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