Spring Position Preview 2013: Running Back

The return of Henry Josey and the development of speedy young tailbacks will highlight the focus this spring in previewing the Missouri Tigers running back position heading into spring ball 2013.

Heading into Spring Football, here's an early look at Missouri's TB position.

From all reports, junior Henry Josey is set to return to active duty for Brian Jones' troops. By the time spring practice gets underway, it will have been more than 15 months since Josey went down on the turf at Faurot Field. He's been cleared to resume football-related activities for the past couple of months, and it will be good just to see him out on the field.

The big question on everyone's mind regarding Josey, who was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2011, and who was averaging 8 yards/carry before he was injured, is will he be fully recovered from his knee injury? It's likely that we won't have the answer to that question until sometime this fall, but early reports are positive. I've got him listed at the top of the Depth Chart, since that's where he was before he was injured.

It's likely that junior Marcus Murphy will function as the starter, or at least a co-starter along with Josey, early in the spring. He returns after having averaged 5.5 yards/carry out of the backfield for Missouri last season. He was also one of the top return men in the country, averaging 13.9 yards/punt return with 3 TDs, and 24.1 yards/kick return with 1 TD.

The third experienced TB on the roster is sophomore Russell Hansbrough, who had 37 carries for 139 yards as a true freshman. Hansbrough was also called upon in the return game. Like Josey and Murphy, Hansbrough is another smaller back who brings quickness and acceleration to the Missouri offense.

Spring football will offer RSF Morgan Steward an opportunity to become established in Missouri's backfield. After initially being resistant to a red-shirt, Steward now thankfully enters the spring with four full years of eligibility ahead of him. Steward is a different type of back than the three listed ahead of him, and a productive off-season has paid dividends for Steward, who is bigger, stronger and faster.

At the next level, junior Greg White and walk-ons Tyler Hunt, Miles Drummond, Jordan Wade, and Andrew Stevens will all be competing to impress the coaching staff and move up.

20 Henry Josey 5'10" 190 (J) OR

6 Marcus Murphy 5'9" 185 (J)

32 Russell Hansbrough 5'9" 185 (So)
36 Morgan Steward 6'0" 215 (RSF)

24 Greg White 6'1"215 (J)
35 Tyler Hunt 5'11" 210 (J)

10 Miles Drummond 5'11" 215 (RSF)
33 Jordan Wade 5'9" 195 (J)

41 Andrew Stevens 5'9" 195 (RSF)

Two tailbacks of most interest to witness this spring are Josey and Steward. All eyes will want to see if Josey will return to his pre-injury form. That probably won't know the answer to that question until next fall. Steward is a bigger back who has a slightly different skill set that the other three TBs. For one thing, he potentially could to be the best blocker among Missouri's TBs, and he may prove to be able to run effectively between the tackles. He could provide a nice compliment in the backfield to Josey and the others.

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