While there are certain question marks surrounding the quarterbacks or the offensive line for the Hurricanes, one position group they’re not as worried about is the running backs. Even with losing Travis Homer early to the NFL Draft, Miami’s confident in the squad they have taking handoffs in 2019.
In 2018, UM’s running game ranked 45th in the country, very up and down and streaky. There were games like against Duke and Pittsburgh where Miami totaled 300 and 293 yards rushing. Then there were games like LSU where the Canes ran the ball for just 83 yards.
The Canes, under new RB’s coach Eric Hickson return junior DeeJay Dallas, and also sophomores Lorenzo Lingard, Cam’Ron Harris and Robert Burns. We’ll have to wait until 2020 to see Auburn transfer Asa Martin play.
“The Ambassador,” the leader of the Canes, not just the running backs but the entire team, Dallas is definitely one of the most vocal on Miami. The Georgia native played a lot more towards the end of his freshman season in 2017 once Mark Walton went down with an injury. We saw DeeJay run out of the Wildcat formation, lined up as a receiver, and also as a traditional running back.
Splitting time with Travis Homer in 2018, Dallas took on a much larger role and developed into a player who could be an every-down back. Last year, DeeJay rushed for 617 yards, six touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. While he went through a fumbling stage, it seems that he was able to move on.
Coming into 2019, Dallas is viewed as the starting back in Dan Enos’ offense. Weighing close to 220 pounds, #13 has quickness you rarely see for bigger backs. During spring ball, Dallas came out still as the starter, and possesses a great combination of both speed and size that Miami will benefit from. The junior also has tremendous vision that the past two years have taught him. One of the Hurricanes biggest problems in 2018 was short-yardage situations, which they hope Dallas can turnaround.
The biggest surprise from the 2018 season and the spring of 2019, Harris has jumped out onto the Hurricanes scene. Filling in when Lingard was injured, Harris showed great flashes of true potential. Against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, we saw Harris burst through the hole and prove why he was a top-10 running back in the nation coming out of high school.
This spring, Harris continued to impress, and started to raise questions as to whether or not he should be the starter. While Dallas is still atop the depth chart, Harris will still get plenty of touches in 2019. He looked leaner in the spring, which will help with breaking tacklers and getting to the outside. Plus, Harris can be dangerous in the receiving game as well. Look for him to breakout even more this season.
Probably the most highly-touted recruit in the 2018 class, Lingard got playing time sparingly in the first few games, but always made his presence felt. Against Savannah State, Lorenzo busted off a 64-yard touchdown run, and made some plays in other games as well. However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the sixth game.
Everyone: Marsh, who you excited to watch in 2019?— Bring Jalen Rivers to Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) February 26, 2019
Me: Lorenzo Lingard#Canes pic.twitter.com/ba3h61EiH8
He didn’t participate in spring ball while he’s still recovering, but he’s expected to be ready come start of fall camp. What sets apart Lingard from the other running backs is his lightening quick speed, he’s probably the fastest player on the team. If the Hurricanes are able to utilize him correctly with Dallas and Harris, the Miami’s backfield can be the best they’ve had in years.
Robert Burns is in the mix as well, but it doesn’t look as if he’ll be in the rotation with the other three players mentioned. Simply put, the Hurricanes running backs can put this offense on another level that they haven't seen in several seasons.
Deejay Dallas calls him and Cam’Ron Davis the best 1-2 punch in the country.— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) April 13, 2019
As I've said before, I'm fine with one of these guys going off for a 1,200-1,500 yard season, but I'm even better with a combined attack with all three backs contributing, keeping their opponents on their heels. Several things need to happen in order for the Canes ground-game to reach this level. First, stay free of injuries. Second, get Lingard back and healthy. And three, let’s get some push from the offensive line, please.