When I saw that Lamar Miller was leaving the Miami Hurricanes after his sophomore season, my first reaction as a Canes fan was one of disbelief. Not that I think he will be anything less than spectacular in the NFL, but because that left the Hurricanes to search for some answers at the running back position.
While the prospects of not having Miller in the backfield still makes me cringe just a bit, I am hopeful that the role will be filled with a combination of both experience and new blood in the upcoming season.
The Miami Hurricanes already have two able-bodied runners that have game-time experience. The first is Mike James, who played in all 12 games last season. Entering his senior season he is looking for some big numbers; last season saw him with only 275 yards rushing. But he was playing second fiddle, so to speak, to Miller and there's no telling what he will do if his playing time is greatly increased.
Another Canes running back with some experience is junior Eduardo Clements. Clements also saw action in all 12 games last season, and though he only racked up 82 rushing yards for the season, he also had 163 receiving yards, proving he can be a catching threat out of the backfield.
Both James and Clements saw action in the Miami spring game, but it was James who recorded the only rushing touchdown of the game. Still, both players had similar success that day with James gaining 57 rushing yards and Clements gaining 51.
The New Blood
As a Hurricanes fan, one of the most exciting parts of the offseason was seeing the name Duke Johnson committed to playing for the Canes. This Scout.com five-star recruit is said to have amazing speed, balance and field vision. In fact, Johnson has been clocked at an amazing 4.48 in the 40-yard dash and the only thing that he lacks according to Scout.com is size. That is something that he will likely gain while playing at Miami.
Because Miami head coach Al Golden is not afraid to play anyone and everyone, I think Johnson will see plenty of action and maybe even early on in the season. If he makes the most of his carries, it wouldn't be too out of the ordinary to see him become an every game back.
Rotating Running Back
No matter how it is done as long as the Hurricanes can fill the void of the over 1,200 rushing yards left by the departed Lamar Miller then they will be just fine. One of the surest ways might be by a sort of running back by committee method. This would see the best running backs in and out of the game in an almost rotating manner, and this method at first might just be the way for the Canes to rack up some yards on the ground and gradually figure out who is going to be the actual solution at running back.
While Miller will be missed, the future is exciting and possibly very bright for the Hurricanes at running back.
Jimmy Collins has been a loyal fan of "The U" since he was a child attending games at the original Orange Bowl. Still a resident of South Florida, he attends numerous Miami Hurricanes games each season and enjoys writing about NCAA Football and the Miami Hurricanes in particular.
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