Miami will open the season in the not so distant future, and to help you prepare for what is sure to be a great year, we are back to preview each position on the team. We will let you know who is back, who is new, and how each player projects for the 2013 season.
Last season's running game was a roller coaster ride that thrilled fans with exciting long runs for touchdowns; but it also left fans disappointed when it broke down and apparently stolen from the damn park a few weekends. (We good with the metaphors for now? Cool.)
This year, however, features a lot of new faces in the backfield: a new offensive coordinator in James Coley, and new running backs' coach Hurlie Brown. While they are taking over an inexperienced group, you won't hear many complaints as they are inheriting one of the best backs in the nation. Let's take a look at the group that will make up the "Jamesless" 2013 running backs.
Duke Johnson/ Sophomore / 5'9", 194 / Miami, FL
2012 stats: 139 carries, 947 yds, 10 td
Duke Johnson, the Miami Norland superstar, decided to shoulder the burden of playing for the home team that happened to be in the midst of a major NCAA investigation - a decision that instantly made him a fan favorite and eased the over-crowding of South Florida mental health facilities. He lived up to the hype, breaking Clinton Portis' freshman rookie rushing record; and was named as the ACC Overall and Offensive player of the year, with a ton of other accolades. Coming into this season as the featured back, durability was a concern.
To combat this, he spent the off season in the weight room, putting on 6-8 lbs of muscle to help absorb the extra punishment he will take (and give out) over the season. Nope - don't worry - he's still just as fast as last year. He will also take on a leadership role, being tasked with setting the tone for this year's group of young inexperienced running backs.
Dallas Crawford / Sophomore / 5'10",196 / Fort Myers, FL
2012 stats: 6 carries, 23yards
The South Fort Myers grad was an ESPN 4 star prospect that was a dual threat on offense and defense, a mobile QB and ball hawking DB with 23 career interceptions. He spent the 2011 season on the practice squad red shirting, and earned himself Defensive Scout Team Player Of the Year. With limited carries at running back last season, he made the best of every opportunity. On special teams, he recorded 10 tackles and an interception. Sure, the pick was off of a ball thrown by a punter, but it still counts. He also went 1-2 passing for 29 yards at QB. This spring he worked his way into the #2 spot at RB behind Duke Johnson, impressing hometown fans (and Al Golden) as he scored 2 touchdowns at the Fort Myers scrimmage.
Danny Dillard / RS Freshman / 6'2", 210 / Bradenton, FL
2012 stats: n/a
Danny Dillard was a Rivals 3 star recruit coming from Venice HS. He was a red shirt last season, getting a chance to develop and get stronger. Coming into the spring he looked to take advantage of his larger build. At 6'2" and over 200 lbs, he brings something the other backs just can't provide, size. He needs to get comfortable with offensive and pass blocking assignments, but could be effective in short yardage situations. He's still young, but as he develops in this new James Coley offense, he has the size and athletic ability that would work well as a change of pace to the smaller backs ahead of him on the depth chart.
Eduardo Clements / Senior / 5'9", 192 / Miami, FL
2012 stats: 16 carries, 70yds, 2td
Coming into his senior year we all hope Eduardo Clements is able to make it on the field. The Booker T. Washington grad had last season cut short after an "upper extremity injury" ended his season. He had played in 7 games as a reserve, rushing the ball 16 times for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns before the injury. He was held out of spring practice, but was confident that he will be ready to get back on the field in the Fall. If he can, and to what extent, is not yet clear. He has needed to wear a neck brace for a long while now, but I would not count his return this season out just yet.
Jameson Labady / Senior / 5'11", 220 / Miami, FL
2012 stats: n/a
James Labady played high school football at North Miami Senior High before moving on to play running and full back at Mesabi Range Jr. College. He transferred to Miami, and was a member of the practice squad in 2012. For the upcoming season with the current roster, look for his contributions to remain on the practice squad.
Brandon Yosha / Sophomore / 6'0", 188 / Carmel, IN
2012 stats: n/a
Before suffering a season ending injury as a junior in high school, Brandon was ranked by rivals as the 7th best running back in the nation. As a true freshman in 2012, Yosha played in 6 games on special teams. Did you make it to the fourth quarter against Kansas State? If so, you may have seen his debut. Look for Brandon's impact this year to be on special teams or on the practice team.
Augustus Edwards / Freshman / 6'2", 230 / Staten Island, NY
2012 stats: n/a
WE GOT THE NUMBER 1 BACK IN THE NATION!!! Fullback. We got the number 1 fullback in the nation. Yes, they rank the position, but go ahead and throw out whatever picture you have of him in your head, and take a look at this. Feeling better? Besides the obvious awesomeness of getting to root for a backfield with names of "Duke&GUS," he adds another back with a bigger body like Dillard. With Duke looking like its gonna be his show for the next 2 seasons having a "thunder" type back to his "lightning" will be important, because people love nicknames and having a big body change of pace back will help keep the offense multidimensional.
Whether it's Gus or Danny that fills this role remains to be seen as both need to prove that they can get the blocking and passing assignments down. With the word being he is already bigger and faster than what his senior game tape shows, he seems to have everything one would need to make an impact as a true freshman, but looking the part and producing are two way different things(negative Kyle Wright comment). Down the line he may grow into more of a standard fullback, but this year look for him to keep fall practices interesting as he shows what he can do in our offense. While there are a few backs that had the spring to get familiar with the offense, I think we can agree no one really stepped up and took the back up role, so Edwards will have every opportunity to see playing time this year if he proves he deserves it.
Cornelius Elder / Freshman / 5'10", 170 / Nashville, Tenn
2012 stats: n/a
For those who got fed up and swore off recruiting news on NSD this may be a unfamiliar name. Even for those who follow the "'crootin trail" this post signing day pickup came as a surprise. Cornelius "Corn" Elder (for those keeping track that's a "Duke", "Gus", and " Corn" in the backfield) is a huge dual-sport pickup for Miami, averaging over 20 points and 5 assists a game as a senior in basketball. In pads though is where the two time Tennessee Mr. Football really puts on a show - rushing for 2,618 yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior. He led his team to three straight state titles amassing stupid numbers of over 6,000 yards rushing and 84 touchdowns.
How about you get acquainted with him with this 4 min video of him breaking 60 yard touchdowns. The reason he wasn't on most fans radar was his size and running style was similar to that of Duke's, and Golden and staff were looking for that change of pace large frame back that they ended up landing with Gus. With our class being a few players light (and Corn still undecided), some after NSD magic happened when Corn sent this tweet choosing Miami. While it's not 100% sure that he will be a running back, he and his 4.42 speed will make an impact somewhere on the field this year. While he lacks the size to really be Duke's change of pace back, it should be fun during summer practices to see how Miami ends up utilizing all his talents.
De'Andre Johnson / Sophomore / 5'8", 210 / Opa Locka, FL
2012 stats: n/a (JUCO)
Johnson was a 2 year scholarship player for Iowa before being dismissed from the team. He then spent a year in the JUCO ranks, playing a few games before injuring his ACL and having to miss the rest of the season. He has two years of eligibility left, and with his hard-nosed running style, should be able to turn his walk-on role into something more.
Ray Lewis III / Freshman / 5'9", 190 / Longwood, FL
2012 stats: n/a
The son of a former Miami legend who will remain nameless, Ray is coming into Miami as an athlete. He is listed on the official roster as a running back, but there has been talk of him getting work at LB as well. In the interest of due diligence, we've listed him here on the chance that he winds up on offense. He is a talented football player, and could do well at either position. Time will tell, though, where he ultimately fits in.