An Early Look At 2014: Running Backs

We break down what to expect from the running back position next season!

Running Backs:

Returning: Traylon Shead (JR-TR), Prescott Line (RS-FR), K.C. Nlemchi (Jr.), Luke Seeker (Jr.), Tanner Rice (FR-TR), Colin LaGasse (FR-RS), Dylan Dickman (FR-RS), Jared Williams (So.), Nick Reed (FR-RS)

Coming In: Darius Durall

2013 Takeaways:

Injuries played a large role in the lack-luster performances by these backs. Not only did Traylon Shead, who was expected to fill the void for Zach Line, fail to stay healthy the entire season but once he went down, no one stepped up and won the starting job outright. Prescott Line showed a lack of agility and explosiveness and besides K.C. Nlemchi's injury, no one really knows why June Jones refused to play the junior. Jones seems to have more faith in Line, but that could change over the course of spring and summer ball.

2014 Outlook:

At 6-foot-2, 225-pounds, Traylon Shead is a bruiser just like Zach Line but is even faster. Shead, if healthy, has the potential to be a very productive running back in this offense. Shead struggled in his first year on the Hilltop, but just like fellow Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert, he could dramatically improve with another year under his belt. With a full off-season to recover and familiarize himself with the offense, Shead should head into spring ball the favorite to win the starting job.

Now this is where it gets interesting. June Jones seems to be more comfortable with Prescott Line as the back-up running back, but K.C. Nlemchi has the physical tools and mean streak to be a dominant runner. Line, who had stellar high school numbers, is the safer pick, but he hasn't shown his heralded running ability at SMU yet. Most people believe that Nlemchi should get an opportunity to showcase his abilities, but June Jones hasn't shown that he is ready to bump him up into the number two slot.

Another back that saw some, but not a lot of playing time, was Colin LaGasse. LaGasse was June Jones' scat back option early in the season before injuries derailed him. When called upon, LaGasse showed his shiftiness and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (9 catches, 50 yards, 1TD), but with incoming freshman Darius Durall also viewed as a scat back option, Durall could challenge LaGasse for that job. Durall, although small, has good speed and hands, so he could see limited playing time even as a freshman.

After being a pleasant surprise his freshman year (42 carries, 180 yards 1 TD), and redshirting in 2012 to recover from a gruesome leg injury, Jared Williams was expected to make his return in 2013 but never saw the field. Williams may be having more troubles with his surgically repaired broken leg than originally thought or he might have wanted to just wanted to make sure he was fully healthy.

Bold Prediction: While June Jones has stuck with Prescott Line as the back up so far, K.C. Nlemchi will prove his case during spring ball and beat out Line.

Projected Depth Chart:

1. Traylon Shead

2. K.C. Nlemchi

3. Prescott Line

4. Collin LaGasse

5. Jared Williams

6. Nick Reed

7. Darius Durall

8. Luke Seeker

9. Tanner Rice

10. Dylan Dickman

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