Scanning The Runningbacks

There is more going on in the Carolina backfield this year both personnel and philosophy wise, than most are aware ...

Cory Boyd may or may not be gone for the season. No one is saying just yet. It looks ominus for Boyd given the fact that his name is excluded from the 2005 Carolina football media guide. We have called everyone we know to call regarding this matter and all we are getting is 'no comment, wait for the official announcement.'

Off the record one source was willing to suggest that Boyd has been reinstated to the team but will be redshirted this season for unspecified reasons.

Knowing Boyd, this is not going to sit well with him. He wants to play and a publicly forced redshirt season may be too much for his ego to handle.

Another source who insisted we not mention his name implied that the decision on Cory had not yet been reached as of late Thursday night and that there were still dicussions underway as to his future with the Gamecocks.

Either way, Boyd is perfect for a Spurrier led offensive system. He is a hard-nosed runner with good moves and great hands. He runs well with the ball and blocks well without the ball. It is not a reach to compare Boyd with Spurrier's Fred Taylor while he was at Florida.

It will be interesting to hear and see what happens with Boyd once the official announcement is made during a press conference Saturday morning. Until then this particular position breakdown will move on without him, but we understand that most Gamecock fans are pulling for Boyd to play this season.

SRs JRs SOs RFR FR Prospects
Daccus Turman Cory Boyd Lanard Stafford Albert Ashcraft Bobby Wallace Clark Gaston
Jared Jeffcoat Jermaine Sims   Michael Glass Mike Davis Okeem McLendon
        Taylor Rank Desmond Collins
        Brandyn Young Demetrius Goode
          Ricky Young
          Ricky Hill
          ... and more.

Daccus Turman, a senior bull who worked hard in the offseason to improve his pass catching skills, will be asked to step his game up to the next level in 2005. That does not mean he will be the every-down back in Spurrier's package. What it does mean is that Turman will play the all-around role in the backfield once he gets past his first game suspension for his involvement in the season-ending Carolina-Clemson brawl in 2004.

Turman has what it takes upstairs to be a vicious ball carrier. He is animated and mean on the field. Attributes you desire in your bruiser - which is what Turman is regardless of his less-than-fullback sized 5-11, 231 pound frame. But Daccus (pronounced Day-cus) is a hard worker, a strong practicer and he is resilient. He'll play his first football game of the season this year in his home state of Georgia where he broke the legendary Herschel Walker's high school total rushing yards record in the Peach State.

Albert Ashcraft, a lanky redshirt-freshman (6-3, 203), showed signs of being a capable back in the spring, even reminding some of a young Harold Greene. But what was clearly missing from Albert's game was a willingness to run hard between the tackles. Other than that he has the tools, the speed, hands and strength to play the game at the major college level. What he needs now is fearlessness and confidence and he could morph himself into a big time ground gainer. If he fails to show early promise this summer, expect to see him moved to strong safety or linebacker during the course of the season.

The reason we are able to suggest moving Ashcraft is because of the strength of the 2005 class of runningbacks. Local product Mike Davis (5-10, 213), comes in with a lot of hype that typically surrounds the in-town stars. But Davis is not a burner by a long shot and his role will be limited early. He will have his hands full learning the system and his assignments and getting up to speed at this level. Mike is a solid back and will contribute. The question is how much and how early? We believe the answer is that Davis will be limited early but will gradually work his way into the lineup and he will make Columbia fans proud in time.

Bobby Wallace is another story. Wallace is an overachiever. His reported size, (5-9 188, and that's stretching it), scared away most D-I recruiters. But Steve Spurrer sees something in Wallace that makes the old ball coach smile when he mentions the Conway native's name.

Between that and what we've seen on film and heard from our sources, we believe Wallace is already penciled in as a contributor and that part of the system is being taylor designed to fit his skills.

Wallace is a scat back in the truest sense of the words. He is your typically traditional jitterbug-back that often comes out of nowhere and makes stars of themselves. Not only is he tough to hit, tough to lay leather upon, but he is fearless and driven.

Look for Bobby Wallace to play early and fairly often. Do not be surprised if exceeds your expectations - he will not exceed ours. As cautious as we usually are about hyping new players, Wallace has earned our respect both with his desire and drive and his attitude. We'll be cheering for him to do well. He is a player.

Taylor Rank (6-0 205) was the state of Washington's AAAA Player of the Year. Before you ponder his ability to endure the South Carolina heat, understand that Rank is a southern boy at heart having spent most of his youth in the state of Georgia - he has been in the Pacific Northwest since the start of his sophomore season in high school. But he wanted to come back to his homeland here in the Atlantic Southeast and the Gamecocks are glad to have him.

Rank is catagorized as a terrific athlete, a good student and a hard worker. He too, we are told, is fearless. He loves the weight room and he loves making plays both with and without the ball. He told us earlier in the year that he enjoys laying a big block on someone as much as he enjoys scoring touchdowns. He has good hands and very respectable speed running sub 4.5 forties with some regularity.

A couple of walk on fullbacks will be asked to contribute. Lanard Stafford and Jermaine Sims fill a role that Spurrier has asked of few on his past teams - that being a prototypical fullback. Spurrier has been known to use them, but with his spread offense and run and gun style of play, a true fullback is more of a luxury at the moment than a necessity except in short yardage situations of course. But even then do not expect to see a drastic change in formations that would telegraph Spurrier's intent and cause defenses to stack the line - a sure reaction to sending in a fullback and pulling a receiver in return.

A few quick final words about the Carolina running backs this season - or more specifically about the losses of personnel.

We wish Antonio Lamar well at Georgia Military. Pooh is a good young man and we will be counting the days until his return to Columbia if things work out as he believes they will.

We wish Demetrius Summers well too - but we will say this regarding the effect of his loss on the Carolina backfield this season.

The 2005 Gamecock running game will be stronger because of the dismissal of Summers. He was a distraction and a disrupter. Not because he was a bad kid per se, but more because of his unwillingness to take advantage of his opportunities and because of the preferential treatment he received in the process. With his absence you are likely to see a much improved, much more productive running game out of Carolina this season. And do not be surprised to see Steve Spurrier use the running game more than you would have imagined not long ago. Word is that he is gearing up his new offensive scheme to revolutionize the college running game almost as much as he revolutionized the college passing game not all too long ago.

It will be interesting to follow.

And whatever the verdict may be concerning Cory Boyd come Saturday morning, South Carolina will still have their running game this year. With Boyd they could be exceptional, without him they will still find a way to be above average. Also, keep this in mind. If Boyd is redshirted, as we believe he may be when all is said and done, that will give South Carolina Boyd's services for two more years rather than one. So the mindset with the coaches may be that they can live without him this season and in the process give him a chance to adjust his attitude and grow more as a person than as a football player this year.

Want to talk about a good Demetrius? Then let's talk about Demetrius Goode.

Other "Scanning: Position By Position" Articles Already Posted:

Wide Receivers - Offensive Line

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories