Big 12 Sports Articles

HCS Op-Ed: West Virginia Running Back Depth a Concern this Spring for Mountaineers

Last season WVU had arguably the deepest stable of running backs in the Big 12, including Andrew Buie, Rushel Shell, Wendell Smallwood, Dreamius Smith, and Dustin Garrison. Each one of them could possibly start or compete to start at almost any school in the country. Now, with the recent transfers of Buie and Garrison, plus Smith no longer having eligibility, the WVU running back position is stuck in a state of limbo and the depth is now lacking.

Garrison was the team’s leading rusher during his freshman season in 2011 with 742 yards and 6 touchdowns. With the depth to the depth, his role has since been diminished. After teraing his ACL, Garrison was looking to have a bounce back season in 2014, but he finished with only 20 carries and just 92 yards. With his lack of play, Garrison has looked to move on and go closer to home in Texas.

Buie, the leading rusher in 2012 had already previously left the school in 2013, but returned last season. In 2012 Buie rushed for 851 yards and 7 touchdowns before leaving for the season in 2013. He returned in 2014 and carried the ball 55 times for 232 yards and no touchdowns.

WVU redshirt freshman Donte Thomas-Williams is going to be expected to make the huge strides, but that’s a big step for a freshman to take. It will be tough for Thomas-Williams to go from practice to playing against competition from arguably the best football conference in the nation. Thomas-Williams was a highly rated recruit coming out of North Carolina but wasn’t able to crack the depth chart last season.

The lack of depth behind Shell and Smallwood leaves the WVU running back position in a state of dire need. If one of those guys go down it could spell doom for the team. With a new quarterback stepping in, either Skylar Howard or William Crest, a running back can be their best friend this season until they get comfortable taking command of the offense.

WVU is going to have to depend on running the ball and the experience on defense in order to have a successful season in 2015 with a new quarterback stepping up. With the transfers of Buie and Garrison the lack of depth at running back can come back to hurt the team come the fall.

It’s going to be a new offense without Garrison, Buie, and also leading receivers Mario Alford and Kevin White headed to the NFL. So having Shell and Smallwood is a big time plus, but an injury to either one of them can almost devastate the team.

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