Mack Brown met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss the state of the program as Carolina finished the first summer school period. One of the top items of interest was the state of the running back room. We speculated on what the depth chart might look like after the Spring Game, when British Brooks made his long-awaited return to Kenan Stadium.
One thing that shouldn’t be a surprise is that Elijah Green, last year’s starter for the second half of the season, should be first in line. Perhaps a small surprise is that sophomore Omarion Hampton will be next in line. Mack Brown said,
We’d like to have a two-plus-one. We’d like to have two running backs that are going to play and one ready to step up if one of them gets hurt. Then the other guys that are talented maybe find something they can do in special teams or third-down... Right now I would see Elijah Green and Omarion Hampton being the two that go out there first because they were healthy all spring and practiced all spring. The other guys were banged up some. George [Pettaway] was doing really well then sprained his ankle and missed most of spring. Caleb Hood’s been hurt, but now he’s healthy. He’s down to 220... he’s in great shape. All of them have a tremendous attitude, so I like what I see from them... But, we can’t have a little bit of all of them, we’ve got to have somebody that you can put in the game and if he gets hot, leave him in.
Health seems to be one of the top factors in determining the pecking order, It goes back to that coaching maxim “one of the greatest abilities in football is availability.” Green has been durable going from last season and into spring and summer practice without missing time. If Hampton is in that two-plus-one mix, he must have gotten his ball security issues under control. And Pettaway, who might be the most intriguing running back prospect on the roster, has not been as healthy as those two.
If Mack Brown really only plays three running backs in a game, we should still expect some attrition before the season starts. There’s too much talent on the roster for six backs, plus freshman Jordan Louie arriving in the fall.
Who stays and who goes? There’s another summer session of practice to go. Fierce competition and health will have the most to say on this.
Who do you think makes the cut to take handoffs from Drake Maye this fall? Let us know in the comments below!