As spring football ramps up, we push to finish our Way Too Early Depth Chart series. Today, we continue our look at the starting line-up for 2013 with the running back position.
Just as the carries were divied up between multiple backs this past season, so too will the carries be shared this coming season. Given the variety of running backs on the roster, it is easy to imagine that coach Holgorsen will rotate the workload amongst three or more backs this coming season.
Departures: RB (A) Ryan Clarke, RB (A) Donovan Miles, and RB (B) Shawne Alston
Returning: RB (B) Andrew Buie, RB (B) Dustin Garrison, RB (A) Cody Clay, RB (B) Maurice Zereoue, RB (B) Tidquan Grant, RB (B) D.J. Hunt, and RB (A) Nate Majnaric
Recruits: RB (B) Dreamius Smith, RB (B) Jacky Marcellus, and RB (B) Wendell Smallwood
The Mountaineers suffered a big loss this past season with the graduation of bruising back Shawne Alston. He accounted for 386 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns this past season and gave the Mountaineers a true interior running game to compliment the outside running of Andrew Buie. WVU will need to replace that capability this season to keep balance with the running game.
The likely heir-apparent to Alston in that role is JUCO transfer Dreamius Smith. The big back amassed 690 yards and 9 touchdowns last season for Butler Community College. A very similar stat line to Alston (even if those numbers were amassed against schools like the South Harmon Institute of Technology).
We think Smith will see plenty of playing time, but will not be the official starter.
RB (A): Cody Clay, r-SO, 6’3″ 252 lbs; Nate Majnaric, r-JR, 6’0″ 232 lbs
RB (B): Andrew Buie, JR, 5’9″ 190 lbs; Dreamius Smith, JR, 5’11″ 220 lbs; Dustin Garrison, JR, 5’8″ 182 lbs
Given the flashes of greatness Buie demonstrated this past season (especially against Texas), we think that Buie will be the featured back in the Mountaineers offense this season. Expect Smith to get plenty of carries in the redzone and in short yardage situations just as Alston did this past season.
Dustin Garrison did not bounce back from knee surgery as well as many thought this past season, but with an off season to recuperate, he should be back to as close to 100% as he can be. If healthy, Garrison will see playing time in relief of Buie and may get more snaps on third down.
The interesting battle this off season will at the RB (A) spot where converted tight end Cody Clay will challenge incumbent Nate Majnaric for starting time. Clay’s blocking skills developed as a tight end will serve him well in the battle for the starting spot. Clay’s ability to catch the ball around the line of scrimmage will give him the edge for playing time.
For more on the Way Too Early Depth Chart series: