MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW 2016: RUNNING BACK
Missouri entered the summer absent a quality established running back. The Tigers were short on numbers at running back, and even shorter on quality performance at the position. True, Ish Witter did look a little better this spring, and Ryan Williams had made a solid impression.
But with the advent of summer, reinforcements arrived, when a pair of quality running backs showed up on campus. The coaching staff is very high on both newcomers.
Damarea Crockett arrived on campus physically and mentally prepared to make an immediate impact. He’s one of a few true freshmen who have arrived this summer physically prepared to compete at this level, and he’s already demonstrated a level of maturity beyond the typical freshman.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how the freshman running back performs.
Next to arrive on campus was graduate transfer Alex Ross, an experienced, high-level running back and kick-returner. Ross and Crockett give the Tigers what they haven’t had, and what the coaching staff really wanted for this offense; big, fast, powerful, running backs.
Missouri is also expected to add to that number of big, fast backs just in time for camp, with the expected arrival of Nate Strong.
Expect the Depth Chart to look something like this pretty early in camp:
5 Alex Ross 6’1” 227 (S)
16 Damarea Crockett 6’0” 215 (F)
? Nate Strong 6'0" 210 (So)
21 Ish Witter 5’8” 190 (J)
4 Ryan Williams 6’0” 180 (RSF)
46 Shaun Conway 5’9” 180 (So) OR
20 Trevon Walters 5’10” 200 (So)
22 Dawson Downing 6’0” 205 (F)
? Jerney Jones 5’10” 180 (F)
If Ross, Crockett, and Strong aren’t one-two-three to begin Fall Camp, I expect they will be soon thereafter.
Strong could be a wild card in all of this. He has the physical attributes, particularly size and speed, but he has to demonstrate that he can stay healthy, quickly learn his position, and get it done on the field.
Witter, Williams, and if he’s healthy, Walters, will each have a chance to compete for some carries. But once the season begins, I expect the three newcomers will handle the bulk of the rushing load. Witter could potentially carve out a niche as a third-down back.
Getting production from the running back position is paramount to Missouri’s offensive success this season. This will be a critically important, as well as very interesting, position to watch this fall.