It's not too often that a team returns its entire running back corps in tact from a season ago, but that is exactly what BYU has this year. Add new names such as Iona Pritchard and Adam Hine to the mix, and this year's running backs look to be deep and promising.
"I love our group of guys," said running backs coach Joe DuPaix. "Guys are playing real well right now. They're competitive, they're getting after it and now we just have to keep them hungry and keep them healthy."
One running back who hasn't been completely healthy here of late is Joshua Quezada who has been nursing a sprained ankle. Today, he saw his first extended work of the fall, which included some reps during team drills.
"The ankle felt fine," said Quezada. "It's a bit frustrating not being able to go the first day, but I got past that and it looks good going ahead."
From the sidelines, Quezada has been able to watch the team progress, and he likes what he sees.
"The attitude on this team is tremendous, and it's fun to watch. I love the tempo that everyone is practicing at," he said. "I'm just so anxious to get to be part of it. I don't want to rush back, and I haven't been rushing it back, but I'm feeling great right now."
A couple of new faces fresh off LDS missions have added their names to the mix at running back.
"I heard that Iona Pritchard was a big, strong, physical player that played both fullback and at linebacker before he left on his mission," said DuPaix.
"I was anxious to get him back, and I've been very pleased with what I've seen from him so far."
Pritchard has been able to see some good team reps, having been removed from his mission for several months. Hine, however, was merely 10 days removed from his mission when practice began.
"Adam is a stud and he has a great attitude," said DuPaix. "I just need to make sure that I don't rush him, because he's just entering his second week of being away in Panama and away from football for two years. It's a hard process coming back, but I love his physical tools, but most of all, I love his attitude and how he's bought into what we do here at BYU."
Overall, fans can expect a running back by committee approach again this season with seniors Bryan Kariya, and JJ Di Luigi along with Quezada shouldering the workload. At fullback there is some good competition shaping up with players such as Zed Mendenhall, Pritchard and Michael Alisa battling it out.
"It's a healthy competition for sure," said DuPaix. "I just can't say enough about my guys. They have great attitudes, and they're pushing hard which is what you love to see as a position coach."
Another position group that is pushing hard ahead of the running backs is the offensive line which includes a wealth of experience.
"Those guys make it easy for us," said Quezada. "Those guys are big, experienced, smart, it's so fun running behind a group like that. They make us look great. I can't say enough about them."
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