2015 Offers: Running Backs

With three signees in the 2014 class, running back is not as much as an emphasis in this 2015 class, but always an important one.

A look at the depth chart for 2014, Pittsburgh is pretty set at running back.

Impressive, considering the fact that the Panthers lost their two-leading rushers after the 2012 season, Ray Graham and Rushel Shell.

A year ago at this time, the position was a bit of a question mark. And while it may not be the strength of the team, it's in good enough shape for the present, and the future.

James Conner and Isaac Bennett were a good one-two punch, if you look at the season as a whole. Conner led the way with 799 yards and 8 touchdowns, Bennett with 797 and 7 touchdowns. On a game-by-game basis, it wasn't as even. Bennett rushed for 240 yards in a win over Old Dominion. Conner set a Pitt bowl record with 229 yards in a win over Bowling Green.

The position will be a bit of a question mark from a health perspective, as both Conner and Bennett were injured late in spring, both in the spring practice. Both are expected to be ready for the start of training camp in August, but it still is a question.

Lets not forget about Rachid Ibrahim. Ibrahim signed with Pitt in 2013, and was initially slated to be a safety. He opened training camp at running back, and played in all 13 games. He also took all the snaps for the remainder of spring when Conner and Bennett went down.

Add to the mix Jameel Poteat, who will join the team as a walk-on this year. Technically, Poteat is not a scholarship player, but he has experience at the Division I level, and was a one-time Pitt commit coming out of high school.

If four running backs weren't enough, Pitt adds signees Chris James, Qadree Ollison and Dennis Briggs to the position. Six scholarship players, plus Poteat, to the running back stable this year.

So where does that leave the Pitt recruiting class for 2015?

Based on the offers--approximately 75 overall--only four have gone out to running backs. The target number is at least one. Paul Chryst won't ignore the position, even if the current depth looks good. Keep in mind just two years ago, with Graham, Shell, Bennett and Malcolm Crockett, the position looked in good shape then. Bennett is the only one still here, just two years later. A lot can happen.

On the offer list is A.J. Turner, a 5-11, 180-pound running back out of Centreville High School. Turner rushed for over 1,200 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior, and is arguably one of the heaviest recruited athletes at any position in the region. He has several offers, and may be tough to lure away from in-state Virginia.

Pitt can look in-state, where they have offered St. Joseph's Prep's Olamide Zaccheaus. The 5-10, 80-pound Zaccheaus has a little more familiarity with the in-state Panthers, being a fan of Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. He has a number of other offers, including Miami, Ohio, Rutgers and Virginia. Like Turner, some tough competition, but a better chance because of some familiarity.

Chapelle Cook, a bigger back, at 6-2, 205, out of Lakewood, New Jersey is also an option. Pitt may have to compete with Rutgers for Cook, but if they're able to land him, the Panthers can offer him some flexibility. He may be the one running back prospect the Panthers can try at either running back or linebacker, before letting him settle on a spot--possibly the biggest thing to look for overall in signing a running back in this 2015 class.

Palm Bay (FL) running back Sekai Lindsey also reports a Pitt offer. It might be a reach to get a running back from Florida, but it's a good sign to see Pitt getting back into Florida. He has other ACC schools such as Georgia Tech and N.C. State, who have offered him, but he likes the Panthers. Don't expect an early decision from him, though.

As with Cook--a player who can play multiple positions--players at other positions, could also come to Pitt as a running back. A player like Quadree Henderson is a possibility there, of the type of player that Chryst would count as a running back.

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