Grading the Canes: Running backs

The tandem of Javarris James and Graig Cooper put together a solid season for the Hurricanes and give hope for a bright future at the running back position.

Running Backs: B+

Javarris James put his name on the college football map as a true freshman in 2006. He reminded a lot of people of a young Edgerrin – including the NFL star himself. Edge often said throughout the offseason that Baby J was better than he was at the same stage of their careers. That had a lot of people excited about the 2007 season for James. They were equally excited about the arrival of true freshman sensation Graig Cooper, who was widely considered the nation's top prep school player the year before. Cooper showed flashes of excitement during the spring and the Hurricanes were hoping to have one of the best one-two punches in college football at the tailback position.

Instead, James was unable to top the numbers he put up as a true freshman the year before – and also falling short of what his cousin did at the same age. Cooper showed some excitement and emerged as one of the top freshman running backs in all of college football. The two played well for the most part but neither of them ran particularly well against the top defensive teams on the schedule this season.

Junior Derron Thomas finished third on the team in rushing, getting nearly 200 yards in mop-up duty. Freshman Shawnbrey McNeal, who was one of the first commitments to Miami after Shannon landed the head coaching job, showed some flashes and made the most of his few opportunities, averaging five yards a carry.

The fullback position was nearly non-existent this season, as the listed starter going into the season (Jerrell Mabry) rarely played and was ineffective when he did. True freshman Lee Chambers sat out most of the season due to injury.

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