Our positional previews continue this week with the running back position.
The Blazers averaged 212 yards on the ground in 2014, which was their highest total since 2009. Coincidentally, 2009 was the last time the Blazers won more than four games in a season.
So it’s pretty obvious that if UAB can control the ground game, they should be able to win some games this year. I think this group is deep and talented enough to average over 200 yards again.
There are nine running backs currently listed on UAB’s roster: Lucious Stanley, Donnie Lee, Kalin Heath, James Noble III, Trey Whitmore, Spencer Brown, Kyle Harrell, Carlos Stephens and Jaleen Thomas. Only Lee and Noble aren’t freshman — both are juniors.
I would not be surprised at all to see at least five of these guys receive carries this year.
In no particular order, Heath, Lee and Noble are considered the top three at this point.
Heath is a redshirt freshman who initially committed to Kansas State. The 6-foot-2, 176 pound back has been outstanding in scrimmages and led the entire team in rushing during the spring game with 79 yards on 13 carries (6.1 average).
Lee received the second most carries for the Green team in the spring game with nine, while Noble was third (among running backs) with seven — take that for what you will.
All three rushed for over 60 yards in the spring game.
Coach Clark praised walk-on Carlos Stephens in the team’s most recent scrimmage. He led the Gold team in the spring game with 12 carries and 17 yards, and scored their lone touchdown.
Jordan Howard led the Blazers in 2014 with 1,587 yards on 306 carries. I don’t think we see that kind of feature back from UAB football in 2017, but I think this group as a whole could produce similar numbers.
Then again, maybe one of these guys breaks out and takes over the running back job. Early on though, I think we can expect to see a revolving door at running back.
The fact remains, if UAB is going to be successful in 2017, they have to be able to establish a running game. These guys — along with the offensive line and a quarterback that can run — should be able to get the job done.