The first two years for Huggins did not lead to many breakout performances but an improved offensive line and new coordinator has the Rutgers running game looking to take off in American Athletic Conference.
Spring Performance -- Huggins did not have big performances in scrimmage situations but showed steady improvement. Averaging less than two yards per carry going into the final week, changes on the offensive line gave him a major boost in production.
The junior tailback paced the Rutgers rushing attack in the spring game with 4.2 yards per carry and a touchdown. Showing ball control issues earlier in his career, Huggins had a relatively fumble-free camp in comparison to other options out of the backfield.
Expected 2013 Role -- Huggins will be the starting running back and face of the Rutgers ground game in 2013. Young players like Desmon Peoples and Paul James will see time, but Huggins has more experience and can be trusted in tight situations.
There will be games where Huggins approaches 40 carries as a workhorse and others where the Scarlet Knights look to quicker change-of-pace options, but expect the St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) standout to lead the way.
Scouting Report -- Huggins has the NFL tools at running back and was a five-star recruit for a reason. He has speed, but is not a burner, and can be an elite cut-back runner between the tackles. The vision and balance are there alongside improved ball security.
Huggins is best when used as a downhill runner and given a chance to get going. He is not a home run back and needs to be fed the ball consistently to build up steam – think Cincinnati.
So why hasn't Huggins mimicked his high school success at Rutgers? There are a few reasons.
Huggins needs to get back to running lower. He takes more big hits than a workhorse back can afford and it makes yards after first contact more of a struggle. Huggins is not as quick off tackle as some other backs and is better used as an interior runner, which was not the case under previous coordinators. Inconsistencies on the offensive line have not helped. When the line is at its best, Huggins can have 150-yard games like Cincinnati last season, but there are also cases like Pittsburgh where blocking was a serious concern. Huggins is improved in pass blocking but has room to grow. Rutgers must also keep Huggins fresh in practices and camps so he is 100 percent going into Fresno State.
The Bottom Line -- Huggins is a classic workhorse back and has to get enough carries to build up a head of steam. Build consistency on the offensive line and run him through the proper gaps and Huggins has 1,000-yard potential this season.