Spring Wrap Up: Running Backs

Michigan State has its guy in Jeremy Langford, but the young depth could be the strength of a unit that is going to be working behind a different offensive line.

The comforting: While the difference in the quarterback situation at Michigan State this year compared to last spring is massive, the difference at running back might be even bigger.

The Spartans entered and left fall camp with a clear No. 1 running back in Jeremy Langford, who led the Big Ten with 18 rushing touchdowns last season.

Langford did not have a flashy spring game by any means, but running the ball behind a mix and match offensive line in no easy task and there was little success on the ground to be had.

He was solid statistical performances in closed scrimmages and talked early in the spring about wanting to make his name even more known and be a more complete back from the first snap of a game until the end.

Behind him, fellow senior Nick Hill was a source of pretty constant praise throughout the spring and made the most of his opportunities with last year's second-leading rusher Delton Williams limited by offseason shoulder surgery.

Add in Gerald Holmes, who also generated some good buzz this spring and also brings a nice complementary skill set to Langford, and the Spartans have a good mix. The only thing that remains to be seen among the three backups is who will help carry some of the onus to keep Langford's carries at a reasonable number.

The concerning: Williams being limited was not ideal for the Spartans. He was the primary backup for Langford last year and figures to hold the same role this year. It would have been good for him to get a full spring under his belt and continue to develop into a solid complement to Langford.

Hill has been consistently strong in his springs at Michigan State, so how much of the praise is just a yearly occurrence back again? Again, he had a good spring and had a good showing in the spring game.

If Williams comes back healthy, he should keep down Langford's carries and help improve a rushing attack that despite its success behind Langford did not put up the yards as a team last season. More balance and production would be welcome to help continue the development of the offense.

The conclusion: Michigan State should be happy with its running attack heading into the summer and fall. With a back in Langford that it is comfortable with carrying the primary load, things look good. The depth behind him, though, figures to be the key. If Williams, Hill and Holmes can provide carries and yards, it will take Michigan State's rushing attack to a better place. It is worth nothing, the offensive line is replacing three starters, but returns experience at the same time. If the blocking is there, Michigan State figures to be in good shape.

Come the fall, incoming freshmen Madre London and Gerald Owens will figure into the group as well. There is not a need for any immediate contributors with the stability the position now has with Langford, Hill and Williams. So just like quarterback, the Spartans leave the spring in a good position at running back with a clear No. 1 who brings consistency.


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