Spring Preview: Running Backs

We dive into the running back position and see who will step up and replace JWIV.

The Candidates
Kelvin York (Sr)
A slow starter in 2012, York finally seemed to hit his stride against Cal when an untimely injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. York teased fans with some fantastic running in that game and finally started to live up to the pre-season hype that surrounded him and his recruitment. Without John White to split carries with York will need to stay healthy as he will likely be Utah's feature back this upcoming season.

Jarrell Oliver (R-So)
Oliver had a fantastic spring (and fall) in 2012 but the great play we saw throughout the spring and summer months failed to translate to productive play during the regular season. Oliver's biggest weaknesses are an inability to pass block effectively and a bad habit of hesitating before hitting a hole, two things he'll need to correct if he wants to see significant playing time in 2013.

James Poole (R-So)
Poole, a late-addition JC transfer last year (joined two weeks into fall camp), looked good at times during fall practices. He was skinny and needed weight which is why the coaches chose to redshirt him in 2012 but he is a player who has the potential to be as good as any back on this roster. He has a fantastic frame on him and an ability to both run by a defender or run him over. He's a player not many have heard of because of his late arrival last year but he could be a sleeper back this spring.

Lucky Radley (Jr)
Lucky is a guy that everybody seems to love despite not seeing the field a lot so far in his career. Outside of John White and Kelvin York, Radley seemed to be the best option at RB and saw increased time after York went down to injury. Radley is small but he's strong and very fast and isn't afraid of contact. He's a workout warrior and a vocal leader on the team and I expect him to push all RB's for time this season. Don't be surprised to see him get reps on special teams because of his strong work ethic. He's a player the coaches want to get on the field.

Projected Depth Chart Going Into Spring
Kelvin York
Lucky Radley
Jarrell Oliver
James Poole

What Needs to Happen
Utah has had the good fortune of recruiting the running back position very well – especially when they hit the Junior College ranks. John White was a major unknown prior to the 2011 season and after two short years he left as one of the program's all-time greats at the position. Kelvin York needs to step up and fill the void that John White is leaving, and it won't be easy. York saw plenty of action early in the 2012 season but struggled to find his way until finally breaking loose against Cal. York's injury was unfortunate, but just before he went down he began to show Ute fans and coaches exactly why they recruited him. He needs to return to form quickly. Utah can't afford another slow start from him. Spring will be a great time for him to show that he's capable of being an every-down back if needed. Outside of York the Utes need their depth at the position to step up. Oliver has the ability as a runner to be a quality back-up but he needs to show that his pass-blocking has improved. Radley could also be a solid contributor but he'll have to prove himself once again if he wants to earn the #2 spot. Poole will push Radley and Oliver and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a log-jam at the 2, 3, and 4 spots as the Utes exit spring and head into the summer months. Let's just hope York solidifies himself as the starter as soon as possible.

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