2010 Tiger Position Preview: Running Back

The Tiger backfield will feature experience and talent for the 2010 season

Likely 2010 Pre-Season Depth Chart

Derrick Washington 6'0" 212 Sr.
De'Vion Moore 5'9" 195 Jr.
Kendial Lawrence 5'9"190 So.
Nikko Sansone 5'9" 180 RSFr.
Chris Willett 6'2" 225 So.
Greg White 6'1" 220 Fr.
Marcus Murphy 5'9"180 Fr.
Henry Josey 5'10" 180 Fr.

The Missouri Tigers return three experienced running backs for 2010, and they have added three more freshmen running backs from the high school ranks. Heading into fall camp, it appears that returning two year starter, senior Derrick Washington, is poised to once again be the first running back on the field for the Tigers.

Washington was impressive during the spring, as he appeared to be in the best shape of his life, heading into his senior year. He appeared to be a step quicker, thanks to an adjusted off-season workout and diet regimen that allowed him to retain his strength while lowering his weight and his percentage of body fat. He weighed in this spring at around 213 pounds, after having played at over 220 last year. He's also another year removed from the knee injury that hampered him throughout his sophomore year, and indicated that he has never felt better.

Look for Derrick to have a big year for the Tigers. In addition, he is unquestionably one of the leaders of this team, and a good one for his teammates to follow. Washington and center Tim Barnes are the lone seniors listed on the two-deep on the offensive side of the ball, and you couldn't have two more team-oriented guys in those positions of leadership.

De'Vion Moore

Junior De'Vion Moore will likely enter fall camp as Washington's primary back-up, and Moore is another team-first guy who provides great leadership within the team. He missed the first half of spring ball while rehabbing from off-season surgery, and only just began to round into playing shape at the conclusion of the spring. Entering fall camp, he'll be fully healthy, and gives the Tigers a quality back-up at the tailback position.

In addition, Moore showed outstanding blocking back capabilities last season when Missouri ran out of their two-back sets.

Kendial Lawrence

Entering spring ball, many fans expected sophomore Kendial Lawrence to make a move up the depth chart, and to possibly establish himself as "the guy" for Missouri at the tailback position. I think maybe Lawrence had some of those expectations, as well, and he got in a lot of work with the first unit, especially during the first half of the spring, when Moore was out. But, at the conclusion of spring ball, Lawrence was still listed behind Washington and Moore, and that's where I expect to find him listed at the beginning of fall camp. Lawrence has played well, and has shown flashes of ability that gets everyone's attention. He could still make a move on the depth chart this fall, but during the spring, it was Washington and Moore who made the bigger strides in improving their play.

In any case, the Tigers have a capable third tailback in Lawrence, and it's virtually assured that he'll have opportunities to carry the ball this season. In addition, Lawrence is a very capable receiver out of the backfield, or when he's lined up closer to the line of scrimmage for Missouri.

Greg White

Fall camp will provide ample opportunity for Missouri's three freshmen tailbacks to show what they can do. Henry Josey, Marcus Murphy, and Greg White will each be competing for the opportunity to get on the field this season. I'm looking forward to seeing each of them in camp, and will be watching to see how they're being utilized, as well as how they're each responding to the increased level of competition. Josey and Murphy are somewhat similar, in that they are smaller, quick, and elusive backs. White is a bigger back, and it will be interesting to see what he can do in Missouri's spread. Of course, the possibility remains for any of these three to wind up on the other side of the ball.

I expect that 2010 will be the best season of Derrick Washington's career. And, if the Tigers can get DWash going, if he does enjoy that career season, then this could be a memorable season for Missouri.

Analysis: The Tigers will have their most experienced backfield and quality depth at running back in Gary Pinkel's tenure at Missouri.

Despite there being a solid balance of run to pass plays in the offense, the Tigers will need to improve on the production they get when they do run the ball. A serious focus was put on this in the spring and look for them to find ways to maximize their efforts to do that in during the coming camp and season. There has been talk of more two back sets and using an attached TE more often.

Any new wrinkles in the running game will be worked in August.

Derrick Washington was in the best shape he has been in this past spring playing as light as 210lbs depending on the day and not only was quicker, but also showed the best speed and cutting ability during his time at Missouri, while still keeping his toughness and strength to run between the tackles. He is poised for a big senior year should he remain healthy.

De'Vion Moore is an excellent complement to Washington and is more then capable of being the go to back if needed. Moore is one of the hardest runners inside for a back his size,but he also has the speed to break a big play.

Kendial Lawrence will be a player to keep a close eye on this August. Lawrence has some special qualities that could lead to him making some big plays when given the opportunity. He has more wiggle then the two ahead of him and his dart and dash style allows him to pick up extra yards. It will be up to him to compete hard against the established backs in order to see more playing time.

The trio of incoming freshmen all bring something different to the mix.

White is a bigger back who can run with power and speed. Murphy is smaller, quicker and is also an excellent receiver who could play in the slot. Josey will probably the fastest back on the team.

It will be interesting to see if any of the three step up and push the top returning backs for snaps during practice and possible PT. All are versatile athletes that have the ability to play other positions in the future.

Overall the Tigers look ready to feature their strongest running game in years.

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