Fall Camp Preview: Running Backs
You couldn’t have asked for more from UTSA’s running game in 2015. Jarveon Williams became the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher while setting numerous school records. With good depth and a solid group returning, the coaching staff did not add any new scholarship running backs to the roster. So how do UTSA RBs replicate the record-breaking effort we saw in 2015?
- Brian Vaughn: A change of pace back that was riddled with injuries the last few seasons. Left the team in the offseason.
- Jarveon Williams: UTSA’s first-ever 1,000 yard rusher. The San Antonio-native set various school records last season. Williams has been a cornerstone for UTSA the last few season and is poised for another big one. The Roadrunner offense should rely heavily on his production this season. In 2015, Williams ran for 1,042 yards on 173 carries (6.0 avg) with eight touchdowns in 11 games.
- Jalen Rhodes: The primary backup to Williams, Rhodes emerged as a playmaker in his own right as a redshirt freshman last season. He carried the ball 60 times for 242 yards with three touchdowns in 2015.
- Tyrell Clay: A former walk-on, Clay was awarded with a scholarship last fall as he emerged as the #3 back in 2015. Playing in spot duty, Clay amassed 196 rushing yards on 42 carries with three touchdowns.
- Blake Dean: After being primarily used on special teams the last two seasons, Dean used a good spring to grab the starting FB role headed into the fall.
- Halen Stewart: One of the more physical backs on the roster, Stewart enters his second season as a Roadrunner after playing primarily on special teams in 2015. His measurables are 5’11”/255lbs and he is listed as the backup FB.
- Corbin White: A Juco that came to UTSA last year from Mississippi, White is another physical presence that stands at 5’10” and 245lbs. He played sparingly in 2015 and could emerge as a contributor in short yardage situations.
- Brett Winnegan: Also known as “The Flash”, Winnegan is widely considered one of the fastest players on the team. He played in 11 games in 2015 as UTSA’s primary kickoff return specialist. He amassed 766 all-purpose yards last season, which was only second to RB Jarveon Williams’ 1,109 all-purpose yards. Winnegan is listed on the depth chart as both kick off and punt return specialist.
- Alex King: A walk-on from Sherveport, LA.
- Jai Manahan: A true freshman who has joined UTSA’s roster as a preferred walk-on from New Deal High School.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jalen Rhodes and Brett Winnegan. After various injuries, Rhodes is coming of his first season of being able to contribute on a consistent basis. A change-of-pace back as compared to Williams, the combination of Williams-Rhodes gives UTSA a one-two punch in the backfield. Winnegan is just exciting to watch. Every return ball he gets his hands on, you have the feeling he’s going to break free for a long one. He came close several times last season. With that type of ability, you have to wonder if Winnegan will get an opportunity with the offense.
1. Does Williams stay injury-free? Jarveon was as healthy as he could be in 2015 (he only missed one game). The prior season, he missed several games. Williams has a unique combination of speed and physicality. That running style lends itself to injury, however. While he is expected to be a workhorse for the offense, it will be crucial that he isn’t overused. UTSA does have some depth on the roster at RB but there is a talent-for-talent replacement for Williams.
2. Who emerges as RB3? Historically UTSA has used a steady rotation of three backs. This includes using them in plays that not only involve rushing but receiving out of the backfield and in blocking situations. Last season that third back was Tyrell Clay. Coming out of the spring, however, it’s uncertain who will fill that role. Blake Dean, Halen Stewart, Corbin White, and Brett Winnegan each possess unique skillsets. It wouldn’t be surprising to see any one of these players to emerge as RB3.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Pound the rock. UTSA’s offense is expected to be more methodical and deliberate. That means the Roadrunners will have to rely heavily on their running game. A large part of that responsibility falls on the offensive line. Yet at the same time, the running backs will need to be ready to take advantage of the holes the line creates and to do that on a consistent basis. If UTSA is able to have a strong/consistent running game, their likelihood of success will increase exponentially in 2016.
- TB Starter: Jarveon Williams
- TB Backup: Jalen Rhodes
- FB Starter: Blake Dean
- FB Backup: Halen Stewart