Miami’s new running back coach Eric Hickson did an outstanding job coaching one of the best runners in the Big 12 in Kansas State’s Alex Barnes in 2018. Barnes finished the year with 1,355 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 112.92 yards per game for the Wildcats.
Now he is tasked with coaching up a Miami running back room that may be one of the best in the entire country. Yes, I said country. From a depth standpoint, you can't ask for much more than what you're getting in Coral Gables. You have a veteran leader and Swiss Army knife in DeeJay Dallas, who's averaging 5.6 yards per carry in his career. And then there are two sophomores in Cam’Ron Davis and Lorenzo Lingard, who could be two of the top second-year players you’ll see this year.
You can't quantify what Dallas brings to the team. He was the ambassador of his recruiting class, despite being from Georgia, and is one of the most passionate guys you will ever find about the Miami Hurricanes. He may not be our number one running back moving forward, but who’s to say that's a bad thing? Dallas has 150 carries, 850 career rushing yards, and nine touchdowns as a Hurricane, mostly in a complimentary role. That is nothing to squander at. He brings so much to the team in the return game and in the locker room that his mere presence in the running back room and around the team makes everybody better.
Davis was considered the “second back” in Miami’s 2018 recruiting class that featured the five-star Lingard, but proved throughout the latter part of the season that he could easily transition into the Hurricanes go-to back moving forward. He finished the year with 166 rushing yards and two touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per attempt.
Lingard played in six games this year before a leg injury derailed his freshman year. A career long 64-yard touchdown run against Savannah State was the highlight of his brief stint of health at Miami, but he was considered one of the best running backs in the entire nation coming out of high school. In his health, he and Davis could, and should, take over this running back room and make it their’s for the next couple of years.
(These highlights are against Savannah State, which is, you know, not good. What you will see is his burst and his ability to identify hole’s in the defense and just flat out make something happen. His best days of football are all ahead of him.)
Then there’s a wildcard in the mix. Actually, a couple of wildcards. Asa Martin, a running back transfer from Auburn, is enrolled at Miami and is applying for immediate eligibility after the Tigers staff mismanaged his redshirt. It is extremely possible that he could be deemed eligible for the 2019 season, giving the Canes a fourth legitimate running back. Martin was the 202nd player in the nation coming out of high school, according to 247Sports, and the 64th ranked player by Rivals. Do with that information what you will, but what's for certain is the kid can absolutely play. And he can play right now.
Martin is a bigger back, standing at 5’11 and weighing over 200 pounds. Enos and Hickson are going to have a hard time deciding which of those four are going to be handling the touches, but I’m sure neither of them would rather have it any other way.
Now, back to the other wild card I mentioned earlier. Mark Antony-Richards is a high-priority recruit for Miami and I am of the understanding that he wants to play running back. If he decides to come, Miami’s running back room just becomes flat out ridiculous. Richards, the brother of Ahmonn Richards, is an ultra talented athlete, as his brother was, and was named Palm Beach County’s 8A-6A Player of the Year. He tallied 1,276 rushing yards and 998 receiving yards as a senior at Wellington. On defense, the younger Richards had 28 total tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, and two interceptions. If he wants in, you do not say no. Get him in the Gables and see if he can go out there and earn a spot.
Competition is what is going to drive this offense to a level we could not have imagined at certain points last season. I don’t have to remind most of you that Miami once had Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Najeh Davenport, and Clinton Portis on the same team in 2001. I am not saying these guys are going to be them in any way, shape, or form. What I am saying is that it’s a great problem to have.
There is no telling what is going to end up happening in Enos’ offense and Hickson’s running back room, but what I do know is that the best man will win. These four (or five) guys will have no choice but to earn their touches and, by Miami’s standards, you shouldn't want it any other way.