Missouri returns a pair of talented tailbacks who saw plenty of action a season ago. Russell Hansbrough missed considerable time this spring with a shoulder injury, but following April surgery, he’s expected to be fully recovered and ready to go for fall camp.
Last season, Hansbrough averaged just over 6.0 yards/carry on 114 rushing attempts, and scored 4 TDs on the ground. Look for the junior to share the bulk of the rushing load this fall with the former All-American return man, Marcus Murphy.
Last season, Murphy developed into a very effective inside runner, to go along with the outstanding edge rushing skills he had previously demonstrated. In 2013, Murphy averaged more than 6.5 yards/carry from the line of scrimmage, and he scored 9 TDs, on just 92 rushing attempts. The senior is also Missouri’s best receiver out of the backfield.
The third returning TB who saw action a year ago is Morgan Steward. In 2013, he rushed for 84 yards (4.0 yards/carry) and 1 TD on just 21 carries. This spring, the sophomore continued to improve, and he solidified both his position as the number three TB heading into fall camp, and his place in this year’s TB rotation. This season, Steward is being counted on to share the rushing load with Murphy and Hansbrough. Hopefully, it will be his performance, rather than any injuries to Missouri’s top 2 TBs, that determines just how much of that load he will carry.
When fall camp arrives, Missouri will introduce a pair of true freshmen into the mix at tailback. Ish Witter, who is set to arrive at Missouri in time for fall camp, and Trevon Walters, who is already on campus, will likely begin fall camp at the back of the line, although I expect we’ll see both of them ascend the Depth Chart fairly rapidly. Will we see one of the freshmen on the field this year?
If the top three guys can remain relatively healthy, it appears to me that TB will be a position of strength for the Tigers this year.
Here’s kind of what the Depth Chart may look like at tailback at the beginning of Fall Camp: