Incoming Freshmen: Running Backs

At this time last year, nobody in college football had a set of running backs that were as talented as a group as the University of Miami.

Since then, James Jackson has graduated and is now playing in the NFL, while D.J. Williams is now competing for a starting spot at middle linebacker.

No need to worry, because the Canes signed its top target at tailback in Frank Gore and versatile fullback Quadtrine Hill.

At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, Gore is one of the most exciting prospects to sign with the Hurricanes in years. I was blessed with the opportunity to watch him play five times as a senior last fall, and Gore is the best high school running back in this state since Emmitt Smith over 15 years ago.

The Coral Gables standout opened a lot of eyes as a junior when he rushed for over 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns before being named the County's top player by the area coaches.

But then he exploded his senior season, which started with a 378-yard performance against South Miami in the season opener. Gore went on to rush for a county-record in yardage, with over 2,000 in just 10 regular season games. He also scored 34 touchdowns.

Every week, Gore was more and more impressive. Like Smith, Gore doesn't have blazing 4.3 speed like some backs do, but like Smith and all great runners, Gore moves the sticks. He's the type of back who gets better as the game wears on, and he's got a winning attitude.

"All the individual stats were great, but I fell short of my No. 1 goal last season and that was to win a state championship," Gore said.

While his team didn't win the state title, Gore certainly played like a state champion. His natural instincts as a running back are remarkable, he has the vision to know where tacklers are, and with some intense coaching from running backs coach Don Soldinger, Gore will have a chance to do a lot of damage at the University of Miami.

Joining Gore and quarterback Buck Ortega in the freshman backfield is Hill, the former Sunrise Piper standout.

At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Hill was a 1,000-yard runner on offense his senior season in highschool. But it's the combination of what he does that will allow him to excel as a fullback at the next level.

Hill brings a lot of versatility to the position, with the necessary skills as a runner, blocker, and pass catcher.

"I can do a lot of things," Hill told me. "Whatever the coaches need me to do, I'll do it."

That's the attitude you love in your fullbacks. The son of a former NFL running back was recruited as a linebacker by some schools, showing the type of football instincts he possesses.

In two years from now, Hill will likely have a 6-foot-1 and 235-pound frame to work with, similar to current fullbacks Najeh Davenport and Kyle Cobia.

With a talent like Gore and a versatile back like Hill, the Hurricanes have an exciting group of players entering their offensive backfield when freshmen report on August 5.

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