SPRING REPORT CARD: Running Backs

Everyone knows what the speedy Michael Goodson is capable of doing in the backfield, but what will Bradley Stephens mean for Mike Sherman and Co.? How is Jorvorskie Lane handling the move to fullback? Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp hands out his spring report card for running backs.

There's no doubt that the stable of running backs are the strength of the Texas A&M football team—on either side of the ball. Bradley Stephens and Michael Goodson are both capable of being all-conference type running backs and yet, they're both on the same team.

If you've been following along with Aggie Websider's daily practice reports, you have a pretty good idea of what Stephens is capable of. If you've attended practice for yourself, then you know what he can do.

The same thing is true for Goodson, who has been poorly utilized in his first two years at A&M, running a lot of option plays to the outside, allowing defenses to trap him against the sideline if he doesn't get key lead blocks.

The junior-to-be averaged 6.7 yards per carry as a freshman, racking up 929 rushing yards on 127 carries. Those numbers went down last year though, when Goodson averaged just 4.6 yards per carry on 153 attempts (790 yards).

But all signs point to a slew of uses for Goodson this year—including screen passes, lining him up in the slot and wide receiver, and opening up holes for him between the hashes—which could put his name on the national radar.

Before he went down nearly two weeks ago with a neck injury, he showed all of the promise that many A&M fans had for him when he burst onto the scene his freshman year. With a new offense that is geared to get him more touches, especially after moving Jorvorskie Lane to fullback, he has a chance to really flourish in 2008.

Stephens gives the running back position unmatched depth and would have the ability to start on most teams. Throughout spring ball, he's been the clear MVP after Goodson went down with the injury and has earned a lot of playing time when the fall rolls around.

Stephens rushed for 1,875 yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior year at McAllen Memorial High School (TX) before redshirting last season.

He's another player who will make his name known in the coming years.

The transition of Lane from tailback to fullback is one of the biggest moves of the offseason. He has tremendous natural blocking abilities and his feet are as quick as you'll ever see on a player that's pushing 290 pounds—if not more.

Sherman has told him that his future in the NFL is at fullback, and that may be all the motivation that he needs to have a solid senior season with a new role.

1. Michael Goodson
STRENGTHS: Speed, agility, hands
NEEDS TO IMPROVE: Goodson is one of the fastest players on the team, but he has to realize that defenders are just as fast as him now and he can't always take it to the outside. Coaches have worked with him during the spring on cutting back inside and if he can add that element to his game, he could become a household name to more than just the A&M faithful.

2. Bradley Stephens
STRENGTHS: vision, footwork, work ethic
NEEDS TO IMPROVE: To be honest, through two weeks of spring practice, there really isn't much that Stephens hasn't done. He's not as naturally fast as Goodson, but he seems to see the field better. However, he'll need to make sure that he holds onto the ball and can take the pounding that division 1 running backs go through.

3. Jorvorskie Lane
STRENGTHS: power, size, footwork, hands
NEEDS TO IMPROVE: This is Lane's first year as a fullback, but he knows that if he's going to play in the NFL, he's going to be playing fullback, and according to Sherman, he'd still be the biggest player at his position in the league. He'll need to continue to work on his lead blocking, which has been up and down in spring practice, but with his footwork and strength, he should become one of the best lead blockers in the nation by the time fall rolls around.

Big D's Grade for running backs: A




Aggie Digest Top Stories