Duke Johnson is no longer around. The Hurricanes lose an elite talent -- one who could run it, catch it, block it, and was a tremendous leader. It's going to be very difficult to replace him.
Based on what we saw throughout the spring, there's a good chance the Canes will use a running back-by-committee approach this fall.
Gus Edwards is a big back that these coaches like. However, he simply lacks game-breaking ability. He's limited in terms of his upside in the passing game. The coaches tried using him as a short-yardage back last season but that even didn't go as planned. He's a big back who lacks the ability to make big plays and it's unclear how he'd hold up as the primary ball-carrier in this offense.
Joe Yearby was a five-star recruit when he signed with the Hurricanes before last season. In terms of size, he's the opposite of Edwards. He's on the small side, even smaller than Duke was at that age.
While Yearby lacks the home-run hitting speed and acceleration as Duke, he is a very instinctive runner who hits holes with authority. He's a talented pass-catcher from the backfield and can do a lot of things for an offense.
Both players had solid springs but neither player took a major lead in this competition so it'll carry into the summer and it'll likely end up being something like a 60/40 split one way or another.
Walter Tucker is a fullback who can play in a single-back set but he's limited in terms of his ability to carry the football. Trayone Gray came here as a prep quarterback and was moved to running back when he arrived last August. He has an impressive size/speed combo but was unable to close the gap much this spring between he and the top two backs on the roster.
Especially since it's such a close competition right now, don't be surprised if the man who ends up winning the job here is the one who can pass protect the best. As of now, it's unclear who that would be.
I tend to think Yearby gives UM a chance to do more as an offense, and would pose more of a threat to opposing defenses.
Time will tell.