Running Backs Update: March 25

With the Hurricanes concluding their second week of spring practices, we take a look at the running backs and talked to running backs coach Tommie Robinson for an update.

Offensive coordinator Patrick Nix has been implementing his offense and the running backs are doing a good job of adjusting to yet another offensive scheme.

"I am real pleased with the way they are working," running backs Tommie Robinson said. "It is a new offense and they have a done a good job trying to learn it. They are still very much in the learning stage. They are putting forth the time and effort to try and learn it. They are still thinking a lot more than they are reacting."

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Javarris James, Soph.

According to Robinson, James has a "very, very good" understaning of the offense. He has a lot of football savvy and comes from a football-oriented family. He is still the team's primary back, but coach Randy Shannon wanted to make sure James improves or he would lose his spot.

"If Javarris does not improve his game, then we will play the next guy and he knows it," Shannon said. "It is up to him to keep improving his game protection-wise and running skills."

Charlie Jones, Sr.

Jones enters his senior season fighting for playing time after starting the '06 season as the team's No. 1 guy. This spring has been productive for Jones.

"Charlie Jones has really done a good job," Robinson said. "He makes runs every day. I think because (Graig) Cooper is the new guy and Charlie has been around here a while, I think people kind of forget about him. Charlie Jones has been very, very solid. He had an 80-yard run (Friday) and Cooper didn't."

One thing to keep in mind about Jones is that he has been through a number of things in his career.

"Charlie has been baptized and has crossed the river of Jordan," Robinson said. "He has had them bullets fly over his head, he has been in those wars, and there is something to be said about that."

Derron Thomas, Jr.

Thomas has been hurt throughout spring practices, but is doing what he can to be on the practice field.

"Derron is a good football player," Robinson said. "I didn't know a lot about him, but he is a real smart kid."

Kylan Robinson, Fr.

Robinson is still working to get carries, but it will be hard to come by. He is a different back in terms of his size--6-1, 215 pounds. He is deceptively good athlete and could provide a different running style to the offense because of his size.

Graig Cooper, Fr.

Cooper came in this spring at 6-foot and 190 pounds and has showed excellent quickness, agility, and elusiveness. By all accounts Cooper is expected to be a big-time player in his career.

"I always knew the kid had great ability," said Robinson, who recruited Cooper when he coached at Memphis. "I don't know if I am surprised, but he is doing the things that we expected him to do."

Cooper was the second running back on the field in Saturday's scrimmage giving indication that he has surpassed the other backs. He also received a number of snaps with the first unit. Although he did not break any big runs during the scrimmage, he got a lot of tough yards and made people miss.

"Cooper is a good back and Cooper is a good kid," Robinson said.

Update on the Fullbacks

Jerrell Mabry, who weighs about 280 pounds right now, has had a good spring thus far and has been a pleasant surprise according to Robinson. In yesterday's he caught a 40-yard touchdown pass. He does not get into the endzone very often (even in practice) so he cherished the moment.

James Bryant has not practiced the last two days due to a commitment to academics. Bryant is expected to return to practice on Tuesday.

John Rochford is still the long snapper and a longshot to receive playing time at fullback.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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