Over the course of an offseason, individual players begin to be analyzed by fans and media pundits alike. Whether it is about a player’s potential draft stock or role on the team, individual expectations soar before fall begins.
But in an era where recruits care mostly about their ranking, and many college athletes concentrate on simply improving their draft stock, junior running back Joseph Yearby has one thing in mind.
“I just want to win games,” Yearby said after Miami’s practice on Saturday.
The quote is short, simple, and to the point, but to Joseph Yearby, that is all that matters.
The junior was barraged with questions about his first-team reps alongside sophomore Mark Walton, and his potential role on the team, but Yearby made clear that his focus was on winning football games.
During his first two seasons at Miami, the ‘Canes didn’t win as many games as expected, so individual performances became silenced by off the field noise. Yearby rushed for over 1000 yards in 2015, but Mark Richt’s hiring took over many of the headlines while he was rushing for yards.
Yearby said that he is “always motivated to have a breakout year”, and Miami’s staff expects nothing less. In order to attain that level of success; however, Miami’s coaches have stressed that the team needs to come together, and form a bond.
“The running back unit is very tight, we’re like a brotherhood in there,” Yearby said while speaking about how his position has come together. “It’s very good because everyone knows if one of us messes up we are gonna tell each other what we did wrong, and whenever we do something good, we compliment each other.”
Complimenting each other will be crucial for Miami this season, both through words and through performance. Yearby is currently part of what is expected to be a two or three running back system with Mark Walton and Gus Edwards, and the ‘Canes competition within the group has bred success.
“It’s always great to have more competition,” Miami Running Backs’ coach Thomas Brown said on media day this past monday. “I’m huge on that because it emphasizes how we compete every day. That is the only way we have a chance to get better, to grow outside our comfort zone, and have a chance to ever get close to being great.”
Brown has worked hard with his running backs over the offseason to get to a point of excellence, and Miami’s ability to be able to put two running backs on the field (Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton), will give the ‘Canes a look opposing defenses don’t often see.
“It’s gonna give them a hard time,” Yearby said when speaking about the idea of him and Walton being on the field at the same time. “They don’t know who’s getting the ball, all of us can do the same thing. We can run routes, run the ball, catch -- so it can get them confused.”
Brown’s multiple back system is music to the unit’s ears, and it gives a chance for a multitude of Miami’s backs to get touches. The system’s idea keeps Miami motivated, and gets them focused on the game.
“We love hearing that,” Yearby said. “We play running back so we want the ball, you always want the ball. It’s gonna help us out a lot during the season running the ball and help us open up the pass game for Brad.”
But while much of the focus is on Miami’s schematic changes entering the season, Yearby knows what they will have to do to win games.
“When adversity hits we all got to come together and pull through it.”