I continue my series looking at each position on the Bulls 2010 roster, this time I look at the Bulls running backs. Under Coach Leavitt, the running backs were not the primary focus on offense, instead he allowed Grothe and Daniels to take most of the carries. But under Coach Holtz though, look for the Bulls to give the ball to the running backs and allow them to carry the load, sparing B.J. Daniels from running all over the field.
Number one on the depth chart is Moise Plancher. Plancher, the 5’9″ 204 lb. 6th year senior received a medical redshirt that will allow him to play for one more year, something the Bulls are very excited about. Plancher gives the Bulls a solid running back that has plenty of experience. He has good speed and can run the ball up the center taking a hit or make a cut to the outside. He has played in 31 games and has 214 carries, 946 yards, and 11 touchdowns in his long career. He was the leading rusher last season from the running back position, gaining 581 yards. Coach Holtz expects him to go over 1000 yards this season if he stays healthy, something B.J. Daniels could benefit from.
Number two on the depth chart is sophomore Demetris Murray. Murray is a physical runner, but hasn’t played much the last two seasons due to injuries, carrying the ball only 14 times for 77 yards. The coaches believe he will put up bigger numbers this season if he remains healthy. The Bulls will use him along with Plancher at the same time, which will cause defensives headaches. He is expected to post big numbers for the Bulls this year.
3rd if Bradley Battles, the 5’9″ 188 freshman. Battles is battling (got to love the name) for the third running back position coming out of spring. He has a tremendous burst off the line and good field vision, mixing power with speed when he runs. Battles is an interesting player and should develop as the season goes along and in the years to come into a solid running back.
Next on the Bulls depth chart is Joel Miller. The 6′ 190 junior was the center of the Leavitt saga, but we aren’t going to get into that. He has mostly played special teams over the years, but is fighting for a spot on the depth chart and might get some carries this season.
Aston Samuels, the 5’10″ 180 lb. senior has battled injuries his entire career, which has hurt his career numbers (27 carries for 201 yards and 4 catches for 21 yards). When he is healthy, he has good speed and great footwork that could be used in special teams, even as a return man. His health is always a concern though, which is why he is not among the starting running backs coming out of spring, but might find his way to the field this year.
Jonny Sitton is a 5’7″ 170 lb. sophomore walk on that has impressed coaches this spring and continues to get more time at punt and kick return. He is continuing to get better and may find his way as a reserve running back.
Marcus Shaw is an incoming freshman and was rated as a 3 star recruit according to Rivals.com. Shaw is 5’9″ and 187 lbs. Shaw probably won’t play this season and may even redshirt because of the depth the Bulls have at running back. He has good speed and hands and will be a name to watch in the years to come.
Tiger Powell was to join USF, but is enrolling to a junior college instead this season due to academic concerns.
Finally Mike Hayes, the 5’9″ 192 lb. junior college transfer that runs the 40 yard dash in 4.4 seconds. Coach Holtz and company are excited for Hayes when he enrolls, he has a mixture of power and speed and will have an impact this season because of his experience at the junior college level (Bulls have had success with JUCO transfers). Personally I see Hayes as a sleeping monster in the Big East. Hayes might emerge as the best running back out of this group, just wait and see.
So there are the Bulls running backs coming out of the spring practices. They are a deep and talented group that hasn’t played much of a roll over the past few years, but that is going to change. There are rumors that other transfers from Colorado and Auburn may be coming in, but for now these are the Bulls running backs.