RB Battle Raging Behind Ringer

Competition brings out the best in a football player, and Michigan State's three-way race for playing time behind stud running back Javon Ringer is doing just that. GSN takes a closer look and analyzes the on-going depth chart battle at RB.

EAST LANSING — With Javon Ringer's snaps limited in the preseason for precautionary reasons (he played in only three series during Saturday's scrimmage), one of the most tightly contested position battles has been thrust into the spotlight.

The three-headed monster vying for the limelight behind the irreplaceable Ringer includes Andre Anderson (r-Fr.), A.J. Jimmerson (Jr.) and Ashton Leggett (r-Fr.)

"I see a lot of determination," Ringer said of his understudies. "They're competing within each other. I'm seeing a lot of competitiveness out of all of them."

At 5-foot-9, 186-pounds, Anderson is the fleetest of the three; With great hands, Jimmerson (5-10, 208) might be the most versatile and well-suited for the Spartans' pro-style offense; and Leggett (5-11, 228) is a load who can run through brick walls when he hits his down-hill stride.

After spring camp, Anderson and Jimmerson appeared to have the inside track for snaps behind Ringer, with Anderson shining in the spring game. Leggett struggled through a bout of fumblitis and lost some ground in the spring battle, but things could be changing.

"Personally, I don't know even know who the second running back is," Ringer said. "They're all competing very hard to see who's going to get that spot … and I'm just seeing a lot of positive attitudes and just a lot of enthusiasm when they get out there on the field."

With his size, Leggett is ideally suited to step into the goal line and short-yardage role Jehuu Caulcrick vacated, but ball security always comes first.

"He (Leggett) had a little case, in the spring, of dropping the football a little bit," said running backs coach Dan Enos. "Knock on wood, he's been very, very good with that thus far this camp and has had a couple of very nice runs. He's got a lot of ability. He's just a freshman and he'd getting better every day."

At Saturday's first fall-camp scrimmage, Leggett busted a 28-yard run that set up a Ringer touchdown. He finished with 32 yards on seven carries and no fumbles.

Anderson, though, came away from Saturday's scrimmage with the most to boast about. He racked up 53 yards on 14 carries (a 3.8 average) and hit paydirt with a 1-yard TD run.

Anderson and Ringer could give teams double vision with a one-two punch of quick, elusive running backs. Jimmerson brings important experience and versatility to the mix. And Leggett is primed to become a go-to guy in important situations, provided he keeps that pigskin in the nook of his arm where it belongs.

The rise of Leggett in fall camp could be an important development. Caulcrick's steady, dependable, short-yardage presence will be sorely missed, unless a player like Leggett (or perhaps a fullback) grabs the reigns.

In the end, the Spartans just might have a whole stable of guys ready to go behind Ringer. One could easily see Ringer splitting time with Anderson or Jimmerson with Leggett making sporadic appearances when the down and distance calls for it.

"We're still evaluating that spot," Enos said. "It may be more than one guy, you know, a couple of them jump in there and get carries. We'll wait and see how it shapes itself out."


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