Spring Warm Up: Running Back Battle

As we prepare for spring practice, Scarlet Report counts down the top five position battles for Rutgers football. Position battles rarely end in spring, but are critical when it comes to player development. We look now at the third biggest battle – running back.

This has the most potential for a long-term position battle because it will be a week-by-week contest all of the way through December. Rutgers is historically a committee program when it comes to the running back position. Unless Rutgers gets a Ray Rice or Paul James level performance in the first two games, this year should be no different.

The Competition

Josh Hicks -- With the type of finish Hicks gave in 2014, one has to wonder why he spent a quarter of the season at defensive back. The pride of Palmetto stole the show in Detroit, and brings a complete and violent attack to running back. The first spring for Hicks in the Rutgers program centers itself around the playbook, and versatility in both pass protection and reception.

Robert Martin -- The other part of an impressive freshman tandem, Martin’s best games came against North Carolina and Indiana in Rutgers victories. Martin is almost a full year back from a high school ACL injury. Like Hicks, Martin needs to transform into a well-rounded running back as things slow down in spring game.

Desmon Peoples -- Peoples was a top performer for two straight springs at Rutgers. He progressed as a pass protector, which gives him the veteran’s edge over the super sophomore pair. Peoples brings a change-of-pace look with the two powerful running backs in contention. Do not discount Rutgers’ 2014 leading rusher or his improvements in ball security.

Other Options -- Paul James is obvious competition, but not until he gets healthy this summer. In the spring, James must focus on rehabilitation and veteran leadership for the younger running backs. Junior Justin Goodwin faces an interesting spring after he lost playing time last season. Rutgers needs bodies at running back in the spring, but he is a prime position change candidate after time at cornerback last season. Sophomore Devan Carter could be a running back or fullback this spring, and Charles Snorweah joins the program in June.

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