College football teams often must replace their leading running back from one season to the next. But usually, they're not trying to replace a guy that's been one of the most productive running backs in school history.
But this coming year, that's precisely what the Utah Utes will attempt to do.
Gone is John White IV, who rushed the ball 534 times over two seasons for 2,560 yards and 23 touchdowns. Both years at Utah he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. During his junior season he carried the team on his 5-foot-8 back, and over two seasons he was a complete back for the Utes.
Now where will the production come from?
Here are four names that are ready to take on the challenge of becoming the next running back at the University of Utah.
York is the opposite of John White IV. He is a big, bruising downhill runner. He showed glimpses of brilliance last season. He was probably the only bright spot against Arizona State. That was a disastrous game, but York carried the ball only 13 times for 86 yards.
He looked like the next big thing to hit the Utes until another injury derailed him. Injuries have hindered his growth in the Utah program thus far and that continued this spring. He had a bout with turf toe throughout most of spring practices but showed in the spring game that he can be that No. 1 option at running back.
While Radley is on the all-name team, he is also going to see major playing time. This spring while York was on the shelf, Radley was at the very least splitting the first-team reps with Bubba Poole. Many days, he was getting the majority of the reps. Radley is thus far a seldom-used running back, having only 15 career carries.
He is much more similar in frame to White, standing a similar 5 foot 8. He is the quickest, shiftiest back of the four. He is strong enough to run between the tackles and quick enough to get to the corner as well. He is a good receiver out of the backfield and that is sure to be a prominent part of the offense with Dennis Erickson calling the plays this season.
Poole might be the most unknown of the four running backs — but certainly not for a lack of talent. James was splitting the first-team reps in the spring with Radley. Poole has a very upright running style and is very fast. He is much bigger than Radley at 6 foot and almost 200 pounds.
One of the most impressive things about him is the way he catches the ball out of the backfield, which would give the Utes a chance at splitting him out wide in certain circumstances. If you match him up with a linebacker, that is a mismatch in the Utes’ favor.
Williams is a big, bruising back. He is the kid on the team that the coaches call a “football player.” He was asked to put on some weight last year to be a fullback. Now it has been asked of him to lose the weight and fight for the running back spot. When the coaches talk about him they smile. He does whatever is asked of him. When he gets the ball he is patient, yet powerful. One of the best compliments said about him this spring was from head coach Kyle Whittingham when he said: “He always gains positive yardage.”
He isn’t as fast as the other three, but he does everything really well. He runs between the tackles, runs outside, catches the ball, pass protects and never goes down on first contact.
There are four more names that will be in the mix this fall, players that signed with the Utes this spring: Dre’Vian Young, Troy McCormick, Devontae Booker, and Marcus Williams.