The start of training camp is right around the corner and it is time to start taking a closer look into the 2017 version of the Scarlet Knights. We will kick things off with a closer look at the running back competition and how it is stacking up.
SR Gus Edwards – The Miami grad transfer was once the nation’s No.1 ranked fullback prospect in the country coming out of Tottenville High School. However, it was all tailback for Edwards at Miami as he rushed for 977 yards and a 5.3 average in three seasons. The RU staff finished out last season with Justin Goodwin as its starting running back and saw the need to go outside the program to add another player at that position. Edwards should see a lot of playing time this season as he was not brought in to watch from the sidelines.
SR Robert Martin – The senior has proven in the past that he is a capable runner, having amassed 1,822 rushing yards during his RU career. Last season, it was a bit of a rocky road for Martin as he lost his starting job by the end of the season and was only getting a limited amount of carries. He has progressed well through this offseason and looks to be right in the thick of the battle for the starting running back spot this summer.
SR Josh Hicks – It seems like a long time ago when Hicks finished out his freshman campaign as MVP of the Quick Lane Bowl. Since then, he has yet to duplicate the same performance on a consistent basis. Last season, he appeared to be out of place in the RU offense as he was running jet sweeps that really did not cater to his strengths as a running back. This is the final go-round for Hicks, who has 1,271 career rushing yards. He will be facing a good amount of competition and will need a strong training camp to forge his way near the top of the pecking order.
SO Trey Sneed – After enrolling early last year, Sneed got some early run but it was mostly as a special teams player. He did, however, manage to get the team’s first first-down in last season’s Michigan debacle. Sneed carried 16 times for 53 yards last season and will start out the summer on the outside looking in at the more veteran running backs.
SO Charles Snorweah – Snorweah was finally cleared to play last season, although the extent of his playing time was limited to special teams as he appeared in eight games. He is a smaller back, who will have to fight it out for plays that won’t be going up the middle. He will need to show some escapability in space to push his way up in what is a crowded field of competitors.
FR Raheem Blackshear – Keep an eye on this true freshman, who is electric with the football in his hands. Blackshear is not the biggest running back, but makes it a habit of making people miss. He was grossly underrated as a recruit, but was considered a late steal for Rutgers. He should be able to come in and be an immediate contributor.
FR Elijah Barnwell – This commitment came because OC Jerry Kill saw Barnwell fitting into the new Rutgers offense. Barnwell does not have blazing speed, but he is a kid that just knows how to gain yards. He is a tough runner, who does have some wiggle when he gets going, although he is more of an in-between-the-tackles runner. With a surplus of veteran backs ahead of him, the staff may be able to bring Barnwell along slowly and assign him a redshirt.
For a look at how these running backs rank in the current pecking order, check out our latest Scarlet Slant as we provide a look at which running backs are expected to play the most this season.