Spring Preview: Running Back
Missouri will open its second spring under Barry Odom next month. Over the next two weeks, we preview spring ball position by position. Today, it's the running backs.
SPRING FOOTBALL 2017: RUNNING BACK
THE STARTER: Just as at quarterback, there is no question here. Damarea Crockett took over the job midway through his freshman year and put together a 1,000-yard season. Crockett has a stranglehold on this spot for the time being. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry, 96.5 per game and led the team in scoring with 60 points on ten touchdown runs.
THE BACKUPS: Ish Witter and Natereace Strong will provide relief for Crockett. Witter was the starter at the beginning of 2016 and put together a nice season with 750 yards on a team-high 162 carries. Strong saw more time late in the season as the Tigers battled both injury and suspension. He ended the year with 149 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, seeing his most extensive action against Tennessee and Arkansas. Freshman Isaiah Miller will also be on campus for spring ball.
Potential Storylines: The only real question is how will the carries be split up? Many Tiger fans wanted Crockett to take over a larger role earlier than he did. He would have led the team in carries had he been eligible for the final game of the season, but the margin would have been thin. Crockett says he can handle as many carries as Missouri is willing to give him, but what will that number be? In addition, can Strong overtake Witter to win the No. 2 role?
Spring Prediction: There may be fewer questions here than anywhere else on the roster. Crockett starts, Witter and Strong back him up. The only potential change comes if Miller makes a splash in spring ball and works himself into that rotation early.
Help on the Way: Along with Miller, the Tigers signed North Carolina runner Larry Rountree, who is more of a power back than the other four guys on the roster. Most teams will play four running backs at times throughout the season. Will Miller get an early leg up by being in town for spring football or does Rountree's differing style give him an edge on skipping the redshirt?
MORE SPRING PREVIEWS
Coming Tomorrow: Wide Receivers