The biggest and really only recruiting news this week is something Tech hoped to avoid. 3-star running back Garland LaFrance decommitted from them this week. Some thought that LaFrance would have a chance to come in and grab the starting running back position as soon as next year. This leaves Tech with only one running back commit at the moment, Devin Brumfield a 3-star recruit out of the same state as LaFrance, Lousiana. With this in mind let’s look at what the running back position could look like next season.
Now that Justin Stockton has graduated there is not a clear lead back. Two players that will have the first opportunities to take the job will be two seniors, Tre King and Desmond Nisby. Of the two, Tre King seems more likely to take over the every down running back role. In the back half of the season, King was the most productive and explosive back on the roster. He does not possess the same type of speed as Stockton but he does have good speed and rarely is brought down by the first defender to touch him. He averaged almost five yards a carry over the course of this year and was the focal point of the offense for a few games when the passing game couldn’t get anything going.
Nisby, on the other hand, was a bit of a one-trick pony. He was a battering ram that the coaches used to push the ball into the end zone. Although his yardage is nowhere near where King’s was, he scored seven touchdowns to King’s four. He is limited by his lack of foot speed and at times this year struggled to hit the right hole. His fumble issues early in the year inside the red zone left him in Coach Kingsbury’s doghouse for a few games too.
Incoming Freshman Devin Brumfield could have a say in this position battle too. Brumfield looks like a Tre King clone to me from his film. He has decent speed, good vision, and finishes runs well. However, it would be very surprising to see him bypass King on the depth chart.
The dark horse for the running back position is Da’Leon Ward. This season was a complete waste for him on the football field as he never saw any game time while he was trying to work his way back into the coaching staff’s good graces after off-field issues. However, many thought he was the future of the running back position after the 2016 season. In just six games he rushed for 428 yards and three touchdowns. He is the smallest of all the running back options but he is also the quickest which might give him a chance to carve out a back up role if not steal the starting job altogether.
It would still be nice to see one more running back recruit join the team for next season. With so much uncertainty it is hard to predict who will come out on top but I am putting my money on Tre King as the starter. In a limited role, he looked like a guy who could allow you to move the chains and pick up first downs which might be all you need a running back to do with explosive receiving threats like TJ Vasher and KeKe Coutee.