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2018 Pinstripe Bowl Player Profile: RB Travis Homer

Miami’s lead back attempts to carry his team past a pesky Wisconsin team.

Capital One Orange Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

There are few things that Miami Hurricanes’ RB Travis Homer can’t do. No one is quite sure if he can execute a coffin corner punt and fans have never seen him throw the ball in a game, for example, but those may be the only limits to the talented junior.

A product of Oxbridge Academy, Homer was a solid four-star prospect (according to 247 Sports) who chose to attend The U over offers from Alabama and Auburn. The West Palm Beach, Florida, native was expected to be a solid addition to a stellar running back room that consisted of two NFL running backs in Mark Walton and Gus Edwards, as well as a former 1,000 yard rusher in Joseph Yearby. After being used sparingly as a freshman, Homer continued to apply himself to earn more carries on offense. After injuries ultimately derailed Mark Walton’s 2017 season, Homer picked up the slack to carry the Hurricanes — literally and figuratively — rushing for 966 yards, eight touchdowns and 5.93 yards-per-carry. Some had feared that the running game would suffer when Walton went down for the year, but Homer eased those concerns by delivering the right medicine to the Canes’ offense.

That production continued into the 2018 season. With talent injected into the RB room through recruitment, Homer appeared to be overlooked by fans excited to see some of the talented freshmen. Yet, as is his nature, Homer just went about his business, running hard and looking forward to getting as much yardage as possible. With just one game left on the calendar, the RB’s 2018 stat line of 969 rushing yards, 6.2 yards-per-carry and four touchdowns are reminiscent of his numbers last season. What you won’t see in the box score is Homer’s emergence as a team leader. It’s part of the reason why the junior was named the team’s MVP on offense this past week. Speaking up for beleaguered teammates, critiquing complacency in practices, this was a year where Travis Homer led by both his play and his voice, when the situation called for it.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Regarding that play, Homer’s versatility may be his greatest attribute on the field. How many starting tailbacks at Power Five programs find themselves on kickoff and punt coverage running down to make the tackles? Not too many — outside of Travis Homer. The first non-defensive player to wear the Turnover Chain in its debut season, the RB’s lunch pail approach to his craft endears him to coach and fan alike. That dedication is illustrated when Homer carries the ball out of the backfield, always moving his legs forward, overpowering the first tackler and side-stepping defenders in the open field. Homer is a balanced back whose skill sets meld well, projecting his game to the next level. While Homer may not clock the fastest 40 time, he does have good acceleration when he gets in motion. And he’s among the Hurricanes’ best blockers at any position, let alone at RB, having earned the trust to pick up the free defender in pass protection.

The Pinstripe Bowl could be a bittersweet game for many reasons. Not only would a win help Miami as they look forward to the long offseason, it could be the deciding factor in whether Travis Homer stays for the 2019 season or leaves a year early. Earlier this year, various media outlets had Travis Homer as a top 100 prospect. Whether that projection holds true now is anyone’s guess. Based on the position he plays and the 2019 class of of players at the position, Homer’s decision will be justified in either scenario. When it comes to the game, the Canes are going to need to lean on the leadership of Homer to guide them to the 20th bowl win in program history. Expect Homer to receive the first batch of the carries for the Hurricanes against a Wisconsin defense that gives up 4.4 yards-per-carry. If the Canes have some healthy tight ends, Homer could leak out to a solid underneath option in the passing game. Otherwise, expect No. 24 to stay in and block, or for the Canes to go with an empty backfield to force Wisconsin to declare their intentions pre-snap.

Regardless of if the Pinstripe Bowl ends up being the swan song for Homer, it represents another opportunity to proudly wear a Hurricanes’ uniform. Here’s to seeing that No. 24 run off into the New York night next Thursday.