Offseason Position Preview: Running Backs
July 29, 2013
“Last year I never would have thought Kirkwood would have got that close going into fall camp,” running backs coach Brian Anderson said. “That’s what’s so great about playing the game, seeing how guys mature, seeing how they handle things. For coaches, it’s exciting to see a guy get 1,000 yards, but at the end of the day, it comes down to winning. …But as a whole, if we do well as a football team, there’s a good chance someone’s probably going to get close to 1,000 yards.”
With improvement among the other backs, and a dynamic freshman coming in, the distribution of rushes may not be quite as lopsided this season. But as Anderson said, if the team does well, someone may still reach 1,000 yards.
FOCUS ON: Donnell Kirkwood
“His growth has been amazing to see--where he’s at now compared to when we first got here,” Anderson said. “His maturity level, his attention to detail has been getting better as we speak.”
Kirkwood took 218 of the Gophers’ 517 total carries in 2012. He may once again be the team’s top back, but he is also trying to help his teammates get in a better position to share some of the load.
“He showed flashes of what he can do,” Anderson said. “He had a good spring. He’s got to continue to do the little things and you’ll see his development continue.”
“They’re athletic guys who’ll make you miss,” Anderson. “Cobb’s a little bit of a combination of both, because he can pound a little bit and then also has good vision to make guys miss. Cole’s more of that dynamic, vertical cut, make a guy miss and hit the big home run play. They all complement each other. I thought those guys did a good job this spring and really took advantage of their opportunities. It’s going to be a dog race when fall camp starts.”
Senior James Gillum, who played in five games last year, rounds out the returning group.
In addition to the differing running styles, Anderson said the running backs’ personalities also complement each other. He is looking forward to having them all together in the fall.
NEW FACES TO WATCH
“He’s got summer and he’s got fall camp,” Anderson said. “It’s going to take some time. But he’s got a great bloodline. He’s got great speed. So it’s there. Now it’s how he matures and how he learns and then getting those opportunities in practice to continue to get better every day at what we do and adjust to the college game.”
Sophomore transfer JoJuan Harper, who redshirted last year, is also eligible to compete.