Kentucky’s running backs are arguably the highlight of the team going into this season. The Wildcats ended the 2011 season battered and bruised at this position with two of its players’ seasons cut short which required the coaching staff to improvise to fill the positions. This season the team’s bench offers some depth from which the coaching staff has to utilize. However, their production will rely on the effectiveness of this season’s offensive line.
CoShik Williams enters his senior season with a career total of 672 yards and 7 touchdowns. Last year, Williams emerged as the team’s primary rushing option due to mid-season injuries. Williams’ career highlight is his performance against Tennessee where he ran for 68 yards and scored the game winning touchdown ending a 26 year streak of defeat. As an experienced senior with playmaking capability, the former walk-on is expected to once again be the team’s number one rushing option going into this season.
Josh Clemons’ contribution to the team will be a big question mark at least for the beginning of the season. Clemons is still recovering from a torn meniscus he suffered last season and has had to sit out during practices due to swelling in his knee. Clemons tallied 279 yards and two touchdowns before his freshman season was cut short against South Carolina. A full recovery by the sophomore would be an added boost to the team, but the coaching staff is being careful to insure he is physically ready before putting him back on the field.
Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George are back as the team’s veteran junior players. Like Clemons, Sanders also fell victim to a knee injury that sidelined him for 6 games, but he has recovered well. Fans regarded Sanders’ freshmen season as a respectable debut, but his sophomore season output decreased thanks in part to his injury. George enters the season with a career 233 yards and two touchdowns.
Freshmen newcomers Justin Taylor and Dyshawn Mobley are entering this season offering more size at the position than UK has typically seen in the past. Taylor de-committed from Alabama after he was asked to gray shirt due to a tear he suffered in his ACL during his high school senior year. Ranked by ESPN as one of the nation’s top 40 running backs, Taylor was one of the surprise gets of this year’s recruiting class with a career 1,500 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Mobley broke the Tennessee high school single-season rushing record after he ran for 3,068 yards in his senior season. They may have to compete with the upperclassmen for playing time, but don’t be surprised if either of them ends up seeing significant minutes on the field.
The SEC is stronger than ever this upcoming season. Kentucky will have to improve its rushing game from last season where they finished 90th overall in the NCAA if it expects to compete in a loaded conference this year. The coaching staff should not and undoubtedly will not hesitate to utilize the running game this season with the stable of players it has especially if the quarterback issue poses problems with the passing game.
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