Miami, like every other college football, team will begin its fall camp in August and one of the tough tasks facing the Hurricanes is replacing the most productive running back in school history.
Before entering May’s NFL Draft, Duke Johnson rushed for 3,519 yards (most in Hurricanes’ program history) and 26 touchdowns in his three seasons at Miami. Now that Johnson plays for the Cleveland Browns, the team must find a way to replace his production.
“The biggest thing is, whether it’s by committee or competition or however it shakes out, we don’t want to have a decline there at all,” said head coach Al Golden during ACC Media Week.
At 6-2, 240 pounds, Gus Edwards has a rare gift of power and speed. Last year, he was primarily used in short-yardage situations. But this season, he will be used more in an expanded role. But Edwards won’t be the only running back the Hurricanes use to help fill the void left by Johnson.
While Edwards is more of a power back, Joseph Yearby is more of a slasher. At 5-9, 185 pounds, Yearby is small, but he has great vision and patience and will be a great change-of-pace back. Yearby can’t handle a full load because of his size, but he will bring much-needed explosiveness to the Canes offense.
Both Edwards and Yearby should be a great thunder and lightning tandem in the backfield.
Incoming freshman Mark Walton might also see some carries in 2015. The four-star recruit chose Miami over Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and South Carolina. Walton rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns to help Miami prep powerhouse Booker T. Washington High win the 4A State Championship.
Sophomore Trayone Gray and Walter Tucker Jr., may also receive some playing time this season. Golden said Gray has made a lot of progress but hopes he can become more mature. The 6-0, 226-pound Tucker will be used as a fullback and is an excellent option to catch the ball out of the backfield. Tucker doesn’t exactly wow fans once he gets the ball, but he does a lot of things well.
Miami fans can expect to see some sort of committee at running back to start out the season. Edwards and Yearby will receive a bulk of the carries, but don’t be surprised if you don’t see Walton in a few games this fall either.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.