Last year, Lyle McCombs continued the tradition of good running backs at the University of Connecticut. The sophomore replaced one of the most successful running backs in Connecticut history, Jordan Todman. Todman left UCONN as the only back to rush for 1000 yards or more in two seasons. After rushing for 1115 yards in 2011, the ninth highest in school history, McCombs is looking to join Todman by rushing for over a 1000 yards again this year.
In the face of injuries and change, running back remains a position of strength for Connecticut. In addition to McCombs, the Huskies have these backs:
D.J. Shoemate, the USC transfer, came to Connecticut to be the feature running back. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field. A medical redshirt last season, Shoemate was expected to see plenty of playing time this year, his final at UCONN. As was the case last season, injuries have kept Shoemate off the field this spring. The team is waiting for results of the MRI Shoemate underwent last week.
This is the last year of eligibility for Shoemate. At one time Shoemate looked to be the next featured back for the Huskies. Now the senior hopes to salvage his final year of playing time.
A junior, Martin Hyppolite has little college experience. For his career, he has only three caries. If Shoemate is unable to go, Hyppolite could see more playing time.
Max DeLorenzo & Joe Williams
Two freshman, Max DeLorenzo a redshirt freshman last year, and Joe Williams, a true freshman this year, may both see the field if the Huskies indeed lose Shoemate to injury. Though both backs are inexperienced, Joe Williams is turning heads at spring practice.
Williams arrived in Connecticut in January. The freshman didn't wait long to put his blazing speed on display. During a recent spring scrimmage, Williams broke free for a long touchdown. The Fort Union, Virginia native has coaches excited. If he continues to impress, the freshman will see plenty of playing time in his first year.
While most of the focus this spring has once again been on the quarterback competition, the success of the running backs will help the offense to thrive. The best friend of an inexperienced quarterback is a good running game, and the running game in Connecticut is good.
A lifetime Connecticut resident and avid football fan, Vonda Menard was excited when the UCONN Huskies moved up to Division I football. She enjoys attending games with her two sons.