Position Analysis: Running Back
Nick preview the 2007 Running Backs
Editor's Note: This is a repost of NickSkin's position previews oritinally posted in our discussion forums. Rather than lose these posts to the pruner, we felt it appropriate to repost them to the front page. Thanks to Nick for all his hard work in developing this series.
Miami NEEDS to find a running game. Last year Miami rushed for only 87 yards per game and averaged only 2.7 yards per rush. Much of that statistic can be blamed on the patchwork offensive line but regardless the running back core needs to step up this season for Miami to be successful.
Last season, Miami's most productive running back was true freshman Andre Bratton (5'11" 182) who led the RedHawks with 285 total yards and a team-best 4.5 yards per carry average. Bratton also led the team with four rushing touchdowns, including back-to-back two-TD games vs. Northern Illinois and Buffalo. Bratton's freshman campaign showed that he's effective as a receiver out of the backfield, hauling in 14 receptions to lead Miami's running backs.
One reason Bratton was called upon was because Miami's most experienced RB Senior Brandon Murphy (5'8" 181) was banged up most of the season. Brandon was a 1,000-yard rusher and second-team all-MAC pick as a sophomore and is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued junior campaign in which he missed four games and was restricted to 10 carries or less in four others.
The Redhawks return only 1 other RB with game experience in Senior Austin Sykes (6' 241). Sykes had a ton of promise coming in 5 years ago but injuries have held him back. He has shown flashes where he blasts through defenders and should provide Miami with a bruising RB in short yardage situations.
Coach Montgomery has a number of other options including RS Freshman Jamel Miller (5'11" 203). Miller was a scout team warrior last season and used his redshirt year to get bigger and stronger gaining 8 pounds during the year. Miami fans should be reminded that Miller came to Miami with a lot of accolades as he rushed for 5,165 yards and 54 touchdowns during his high school career, averaging an impressive 8.0 yards per carry. He rushed for 2,278 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior and 2,128 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior. He was a two-time Second-Team All-State pick and participated in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game.
This past recruiting class should provide Miami with yet another weapon in true Freshman Thomas Merriweather (5'10" 200), an explosive runner who was considered one of the top RB's in Missouri. So far this summer Merriweather has had terrific reports and it might be very tough to keep him off the field this season.
Finally, Miami brought in true Freshman TJ Lattimore (5'8" 171) as preferred walk-on. Lattimore was an All-State RB from Maple Heights, Ohio who participated in Ohio's North South game recently.
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