Coming into the 2018 season there were two position groups that seemed neck and neck to earn the title of best on the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes’ WRs and RBs were both loaded with depth and boasted some talented playmakers that were sure to be NFL talents one day. Well fast forward to 2019 and, after Ahmmon Richards’ career ending prematurely and Jeff Thomas’ transfer, there’s little doubt now that Miami’s runningbacks were tops on the team.
While there was some discussion about who would ultimately be the lead dog in a room of talented, young runners, Miami never really had a feature back as much as they had a committee approach. Travis Homer may have finished with the best stats, 164 carries for 985 yards and 4 TDs, but players like Deejay Dallas and Cam’ron Davis also had turns during the season to lead the backfield.
While Homer was the steadier back; an all-around threat who doesn’t possess elite speed or power but did everything well, Dallas and Davis flashed potential for 2019 and beyond. Even Lorenzo Lingard, before injurying his knee, averaged 8 yards per rush on 17 carries. Dallas likely would’ve seized lead back reigns if not for a deadly case of fumblitis.
While Homer didn’t flash brilliance in any one area, Dallas continued to show tremendous speed and agility, accounting for seven scores on the season including an 83-yarder against Duke and a 65-yard punt return against Pittsburgh. The second year player finished with 617 yards on 109 carries to go with 10 receptions and 85 receiving yards. Dallas will almost certainly be the lead back in 2019 as long as his fumble issues, four fumbles with three lost last season, don’t continue to hold him back.
With Homer gone to the NFL, Lingard and Cam’ron Davis will get much bigger roles behind Deejay Dallas. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if one of them even surpasses Dallas. While Dallas is supremely talented, the two rising sophomores aren’t lacking in that department and the new offensive staff may be willing to give the young guys a shot if no. 13 still can’t hang onto the ball.
While Lingard never got fully unleashed on the field, he should be a critical weapon in this coming season’s attack when he returns to full health. Davis meanwhile showed what he can do this past season, especially with his breakout performance against Virginia Tech late in the season. Against the Hokies, Davis sparked a sluggish run game by accounting for 77 yards on just seven touches and scoring on a 42-yard tote to break the game open. For good measure, he also added a 16-yard receiving touchdown later on. Though the previous coaching staff didn’t give Davis many opportunities to showcase his talent, the true freshman finished the season with 28 carries, accumulated 166 yards and 2 rushing TDs.
Trayone Gray also bears mentioning, as the versatile fullback carried the ball 24 times for 83 yards and 2 TDs of his own, while being nearly unstoppable on 3rd and 4th & short chances. Although the playcalling never got creative enough to give him more opportunities to utilize his combination of power and athleticism, Gray was still a solid contributor among the 2018 backs.
With three of the top four runningbacks returning for 2019, this group should prove to be Miami’s best once again, even with a new head coach, new offense and maybe, new quarterback.