While Utah State's two top rushers have graduated, the Aggies have plenty of athletes in the backfield for this season. RB LaJuan Hunt and QB Kent Myers made quite a rushing duo at times last season, but Utah State's running backs just might be in a better position, thanks to a converted wide receiver and a junior college All-American.
Here's a breakdown of Utah State's running backs for 2018:
Battle for the starting position: Gerold Bright, Darwin Thompson
Last year's leading rusher LaJuan Hunt has graduated after running for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. While Hunt will be missed, there's plenty of talent ready and waiting to replace him in the backfield.
Bright started last season as a wide receiver before being moved to running back for the last three games of the season, and it didn't take him long to show what he can do. He had a 60-yard touchdown run against Hawaii and followed that up with a 75-yard touchdown rush against Air Force. As a former slot receiver, it almost goes without saying that he's also a threat when he slips out of the backfield. The junior will undoubtedly be a big-time contributor.
However, JC transfer Thompson was a second-team NJCAA All-American at Oklahoma A&M, where he rushed for 1,391 yards and eight touchdowns. NFL.com's Chase Goodbread recently featured Thompson as part of 2018's most freakish athletes. According to the article, has a squat max of 560 pounds and a vertical jump of 40 inches, which would have tied for second place in this year's NFL Combine. His athletic ability could push him into the starting position this fall, but at the very least Utah State fans should get a good look for themselves on what he can do on the field.
Backups: Eltoro Allen, Morian Walker, Tre Miller, Sione Fehoko
Allen is also a JC transfer who made regular appearances on the field to start 2017, rushing for 284 yards and a touchdown. However, Allen lost a fumble three times in the nine games in which he had at least one carry: once against Idaho State, once against San Jose State and once against UNLV. His ball security issues along with an injury sidelined Allen for the final four games of the season. He will need to shore up his ball security if he wants to see significant playing time in 2018.1 comment on this story
Walker sustained a shoulder injury in 2017's spring practice that kept him off the field for an entire year, but he was finally cleared to participate in this year's spring practice. He's the largest running back on the roster at 6-1, 220 pounds and could be a nice power back.
Miller had to burn his redshirt last season to help out as a true freshman. He rushed for 116 yards on 30 attempts, although he wasn't able to score a touchdown. Fehoko is a redshirt freshman out of Cottonwood High School, although it's unlikely he will see much action this season unless there's injury problems at Utah State.
Utah State has some exciting athletes in the backfield in 2018. We'll have to see if they can live up to their potential this year.