Talent. Depth. Diversity. Utah's running back corps looks like it has it all heading into the 2014 season after a very good spring camp. For the first time since Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata roamed the turf at Rice-Eccles, the Utes appear to have multiple reliable running backs that they'll be able to count on.
Devontae Booker was the new guy on the block and the JC transfer more than outdid any incoming expectations. Showing an ability to run between the tackles with more power than anyone else on the roster, Booker looks like the most complete back on the team. Described as an SEC talent, he's the least skilled of the big three at catching the ball out of the backfield, but showed an athleticism that few backs at his size across the country have. With a summer of conditioning at Utah to get in better shape, there's no reason to think he won't be the clear-cut starter by the end of fall camp. That's not a knock on the other guys either. Booker is just that good and has that much potential.
Who's the little guy out there making all those plays? That's Troy McCormick. Maybe 165 pounds on a good day, McCormick doesn't play like a redshirt freshman to be. His speed out of the backfield is ridiculous, and the kid from Texas has a shiftiness that no one on the roster can match. Catch the ball in space? He's tremendous, constantly making defenders miss and looks silly. Run between the tackles? For a guy that's the size of a JV back, he looks like Jerome Bettis the way he shakes defenders and drives through would be tacklers. McCormick is as tough of a runner at his size as you'll find. While he doesn't have the size to be an every down back at this point, McCormick showed that it will be necessary for the Utah coaches to find a way to get the ball into his hands 10 to 15 times per game. He's a threat to take it to the house at a level that Utah hasn't had in the backfield for a long time.
If Booker is the thunder and McCormick is the lightning, returning starter Bubba Poole is the do-everything guy. Despite hard charges from the other two backs, Poole was able to hold on to his starting spot on the depth chart with an impressive spring of his own. The versatile back showed that he's at his best when catching balls out of the backfield, something he did often in spring, while making plays in open space. The two back sets suited Poole perfectly as he was able to be utilized with both direct handoffs or flaring out to catch the quick hitters that the Utes utilized so much in the spring.
Dre'Vian Young saw spot duty with the second and third teams, and while he looks better than a year ago, a lingering knee issue seems to be slowing him a bit, leaving the freshman from Texas well behind the other three. The potential is still there, but with McCormick in the same class and showing more speed and a better ability to run between the tackles, Young will have to wait his turn.
Jarrell Oliver participated in the first few days of spring ball before sitting out the remainder due to reasons we're not at liberty to discuss at this time.
Spring Running Back Rankings
1) Devontae Booker
2) Bubba Poole
3) Troy McCormick
4) Dre'Vian Young
Spring Recap: Running Back
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