Spring Preview: Running Backs

The University of Miami begins spring football today, becoming the first Division 1 team to start spring drills. Lets take a closer look at the team's running back situation heading into spring.

The Players:
RB (5-11, 200, SR), FB John Calhoun (6-3, 255, R-FR), Lee Chambers (5-10, 185, SO), Graig Cooper (6-0, 200, JR), FB Patrick Hill (5-9, 265, SR), Javarris James (6-0, 215, SR), and Mike James (5-11, 215, FR)

What They've Done:
Berry: 0 carries
Calhoun: has not yet played
Chambers: 18 carries for 116 yards; 1 catch for 4 yards
Cooper: 296 carries for 1,523 yards, and 8 TD's; 42 catches for 242 yards and 2 TD's
Hill: 0 carries; 4 catches for 17 yards
J. James: 402 carries for 1,670 yards and 12 TD's; 42 catches for 418 yards and 1 TD
M. James: has not yet played

As Recruits:
Berry: 4-star, #27 S
Calhoun: 2-star, NR FB Chambers: 3-star, #38 RB
Cooper: 3-star, #75 RB
Hill: 3-star FB (Juco)
J. James: 4-star, #35 RB
M. James: 4-star, #18 RB

Outlook:
The Canes have two proven running backs in Cooper and James. They are two different types of players -- Coop is more of the home run threat with outside speed while James is more of the inside runner who will break more tackles and move the sticks. The two played together well at times in 2007 but with injuries, they weren't able to really form a team last season. That's the goal this year -- to have a legit one-two punch with those two players. If they stay healthy, it should be one of the better 1-2 combos in the conference. Chambers, who is more like Coop, showed some flashes in the bowl game against Cal when he was Miami's best back. It'll be interesting to see if he can carry that over into the spring and emerge as a legit threat or if he'll stay behind the top two guys as a number three option. Mike James just signed with Miami and he he's a lot like James at this age, except a little stronger and more physical. James is one of the most physical running backs Miami has signed in awhile and should see some action early on this season because of his ability to convert short-yardage situations and the way he can block and catch. All four running backs have good hands out of the backfield as well and can be used in that area of Mark Whipple's new offense.

Hill and Calhoun will split the fullback duties. Hill started all last season and got better as the season went along. It'll be interesting to see his new role in this offense and if he'll see more than four touches like he did last season. It's hard to tell how effective Calhoun will be since he hasn't played yet but he'll get plenty of chances in these next few weeks to see if he can emerge as a legit threat to cut into Hill's playing time.


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