Starting in spring, I mean he’s broken more long runs than what we’ve had here in two years. He just gives us that home run mentality as a running back. —Dennis Erickson, about Troy McCormick's potential
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utes kickoff their 2014 season next week and when they hit the field Utah will have a three-headed force running the football.
Junior running back Bubba Poole returns as the team's top returning rusher, while junior college transfer Devontae Booker is listed second on the depth chart.
“Poole is a guy that has played. He’s got great shiftiness, touches the football really well — good pass protector. He doesn’t miss assignments,” running back coach Dennis Erickson said. “ Booker is kind of the opposite of all of them. He’s really physical inside. He’s probably our strongest runner — our best short yardage runner."
However, it’s the team’s third running back that’s also turning heads throughout fall camp.
Troy McCormick, a redshirt freshman, adds considerable depth to the running backs corps with his listed 4.38 40-yard speed. Both Erickson and head coach Kyle Whittingham have said that all three running backs will play this season.
“He’s tough. He can do everything and he’s a change of pace,” Erickson said of McCormick.
In the team’s scrimmage on Saturday, the speedster broke off a 59-yard touchdown run. It’s not uncommon for McCormick to break those runs either.
Throughout the sessions media have been allowed to watch fall camp, McCormick has broken out several of big runs.
“Starting in spring, I mean he’s broken more long runs than what we’ve had here in two years,” Erickson said. “He just gives us that home run mentality as a running back.”
McCormick said the battle for playing times has brought out the best in competition within three backs.
“It’s going to be a good rotation,” McCormick said. “It’s going to have different situations we all bring something different.”
He added he’s still learning a few aspects of being a running back, such as picking up block assignments.
“I’m so prepared,” he said. “I still have a lot of learning with the pass blocking and stuff, but yeah we’ll get it done.”
When the Utes hit the field Aug. 28 against Idaho State, all three running backs will get their fair share of time in the backfield.
“We’re fortunate to have all three of them,” Erickson said. "... It's beneficial because we're going to show the defense something different every time."