Taquan Mizzell understands he has a lot more responsibilities this season.
"I just took it upon myself to do more than just required," said the Virginia running back. "I did extra stuff because my role has expanded a little bit more. Whether I am the first guy or not, I am going to be getting more touches than last year, and I just have to be ready for when my number is called."
Mizzell carried a lot of expectations into his career at UVa. A former four-star high school prospect on Scout, the junior struggled to find his footing his first two seasons in Charlottesville.
"My first year alone playing with a high ankle sprain, I felt at the most two games at 100 percent," said the 5-foot-10, 195 pound running back. "Last year I felt like my role was a little different. Even though I wasn't hurt, I couldn't do as much as I wanted to, but I felt like I had to play my role the best way I could to help me team out. But this year I am all the way healthy. I'm going to get the ball in a lot of ways to make plays and show the world what I can do."
Under new running backs coach Chris Beatty, Mizzell has seen a change in himself for the better.
"I felt like he has pushed me to the limits," he said. "He has made me a better player. I am learning the game a lot more, not just on the field but off the field-things like watching film and attention to details."
"Smoke's" improvement on the field has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.
"Smoke came on and did a nice job particularly the second half of spring, once he figured out where we were headed with the run game," said UVa Offensive Coordinator Steve Fairchild.
A look into the running back position battle.