Dennis Erickson says he has no problem with his role on this year’s Utes, but he does have a problem.
A good problem, probably.
Six practices into spring, there are six running backs splitting reps. More are on their way this fall. Erickson needs to pare down the field, but they’re making it tough because, darn it, they’re all playing pretty well.
As of Monday, your way-too-early depth chart seems to be: 1, junior Bubba Poole; 2, (tie) junior Devontae Booker and redshirt freshman Troy McCormick; 4, sophomore Marcus Sanders-Williams; 5, redshirt freshman Dre’Vian Young; and 6, junior Jarrell Oliver.
"We have a lot of them," Erickson said. "It’s a good group. The thing that I like about it is they’re all a little different."
Poole was the team’s top rushing threat last season with 607 yards, complemented by 229 receiving yards, and his name is currently in bold face on the depth chart.
Behind him, McCormick tips the scales at just 167 pounds but possesses breakaway speed and the ability to line up as a slot receiver and burn past linebackers.
And of all the backs, the well-rounded Booker may have had the best start to spring. His blend of power and speed is everything Utah coaches had hoped for when they recruited him at Sacramento’s American River College, Erickson says.
Those three currently split the bulk of the carries against the No. 1 defense at practice. In addition, Sanders-Williams gained 10 pounds in the offseason (up to 222), and Erickson thinks he may be used in the blocking-intensive role that Karl Williams filled last year.
Kelvin York, Poole and senior Lucky Radley split the carries in 2013 (combining for 1,352 yards), and the Utes are likely to use multiple backs again this year. But Erickson knows there are only so many snaps.
Expected to join the fray at fall camp are Radley, sophomore returned missionary Harvey Langi (if he doesn’t change positions), and two true freshmen from the Sunshine State in D.J. Law and Tarvaris Williams.
Poole said he and the other backs — a group self-styled as "Let’s Get It" — are well aware that every rep counts.
"We’ve all accepted that, when you get your chance, you’ve got to make the most of it."
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