ND has a stacked, STACKED running backs corps. When you look at the guys coming back, and the fact that there’s only 1 on the field at any given time, you gotta think: we need to move these dudes around. Because there are some playmakers here, people. ME LIKEY.
Here’s the roster as I see it:
1. Cierre Wood – Cierre has really progressed and delivered on his potential last year. Yes, Gray was the feel-good story, but Cierre has a bang-up year rushing for 1102 yards on 217 carries for a 5.1 YPC average. He also scored 9 TDs. Wood is the starting point. He’s the foundation for this rushing attack. And he is legit.
2. Theo Riddick – I put Theo here as #2 not because I think he’s the 2nd best back, but because he is the 2nd player currently called a RB that will be put in the game. With his significant experience and explosiveness, Theo is an important cog in the ND offense next year. I just don’t see it at RB. There’s too much talent, and he’s been trained in WR. He should be in the slot, in motion, moving around ala Tate a few years back. Theo needs to be utilized in that hybrid manner. As an everydown back? I just don’t see room with this chart.
3. GAIII – Rocket Reborn (minus the hands)! GAIII is really amazing on the field. SO fast, so quick, with great instincts. He could be a huge playmaker behind Wood this year. If ONLY GAIII could catch the ball, he’d be an AMAZING receiver with his height and speed. Given the challenges with his hands, shown by all the fumbleitis in the Spring Game, he makes me nervous even taking hand-offs. But his talent with his feet is just too good – he needs to be in the game. That’s assuming he can learn to control the ball and take hand-offs cleanly. If not? I’d hate to say it, but: Defense.
4. Amir Carlisle – When Amir decided to transfer in, the depth chart was looking great. It was Wood and nobody. Then GAIII emerged, and Riddick was moved back and all of a suddent it’s a competition. Amir is young and coming off an injury, so he’s a big ? at this point. But his recruiting profile says a lot, and he could be a wild card this Fall if he’s healthy.
Of course we have a few other players (Russell, etc) that could be in the mix, but this is a solid, solid core from which to build a great running attack. ND was really successful last year on the ground, and with the graduation of Floyd, this position will be leaned on even more heavily. I expect Wood to be the go-to guy, with either Amir or GAIII emerging as the alternate. Riddick’s role will be more hybrid/slot, to make room for carries for the other stars, unless he can really wow coaches in fall camp.
Excited to see what these boys can do – it’s one of the strengths of this Irish offense, along with OL and TE. We will be runnnnniiiiiiiing!