Although the Miami Hurricanes are forced to replace leading rusher Travis Homer, who declared for the NFL Draft, new offensive coordinator Dan Enos and the offensive staff will have both the depth and talent to replace his production.
As a unit, the running backs return two players who earned significant playing time, with DeeJay Dallas leading the group in rushing with 617 yards in 2018. The unit also returns one of the highest ranked running backs in the 2018 recruiting class, with Lorenzo Lingard set for a bigger role with this season.
While the running backs who will make an impact is pretty much set in stone, how the carries are divided will not clear up until the Hurricanes take the field against Florida on Week 0.
DeeJay Dallas, Junior
At 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, DeeJay Dallas is the perfect do-it-all back for the Hurricanes.
Although he began his college career as a wide receiver, Dallas was moved to running back in the middle of his freshman season, after an injury to Mark Walton left the running back room scrambling for a replacement.
Ever since then, Dallas has succeeded both as a runner and a receiver. Last season, Dallas finished with 617 rushing yards, 85 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also made a contribution on special teams, scoring a punt return touchdown.
Once the season begins, expect Dallas to earn a majority of the snaps. He is the most experienced running back in the room and is arguably the most important to the Hurricanes offense.
Cam’ron Harris, Sophomore
As a true freshman, a majority of Cam’Ron Harris’ production came late in the season, especially in the Hurricanes 38-14 win over Virginia Tech in one of the final weeks of the season.
In his breakout game, Harris ran for 77 yards on 7 carries and a 42-yard touchdown run in the second quarter which put the Hurricanes up by two scores. On the season, Harris finished with 166 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 7 games.
Harris is the same height as Dallas at 5-foot-10 but Harris does not have the same frame, so expect the Hurricanes to use his speed and overall quickness to their advantage.
Lorenzo Lingard, Sophomore
In terms of overall raw talent, there may not be a player with as much on the Hurricanes roster.
In high school, Lingard was a consensus five-star prospect. He earned All-American game honors as a high school senior and was named Gatorade’s Florida Player of the Year that same season.
However, a leg injury just six games into his freshman season derailed what was beginning to look like a promising season for the Orange City native. Lingard finished his freshman season with 136 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries.
As Lingard continues to rehab from the injury, his playing time early in the season will likely be limited. However, his frame and potential makes Lingard an intriguing option to take the lead running back role sooner rather than later.
Robert Burns, Redshirt Sophomore
Robert Burns didn’t get much playtime last season but there’s reason to believe he will get more looks in 2019, even if the jump is minimal.
At 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, Burns has the prototypical size for a running back and his vision, ability to catch the ball and quickness means that Burns could carve a role as a third-down back, especially if an injury happens at any point during the season.
Jimmy Murphy, Redshirt Senior
Murphy won’t get many, if any, looks on offense but his impact will be on special teams. Last season, Murphy made an appearance in seven games and finished as one of the leaders in tackles on special teams.
The Hurricanes will rotate between DeeJay Dallas, Cam’Ron Harris and Lorenzo Lingard, if he’s healthy, for most of the season but how the Hurricanes rotate them is debatable.
In Dan Enos’ last season with Arkansas (2017), Enos split the carries evenly between Devwah Whaley and David Williams, who had 127 and 107 carries respectively. Chase Hayden also got 61 carries as the third string running back.
While the split may not be as 50/50 for the Hurricanes, the talent in the backfield means that Enos will likely split the carries in some even fashion.
Expect DeeJay Dallas to act as the lead back, earning most of the carries and targets. Enos could explore ways to move Dallas in various positions, using his experience as both a quarterback and wide receiver to his advantage.
Harris will likely finish second in carries, acting as a change of pace and spell running back when DeeJay either needs a rest or the Hurricanes need killer speed or huge play potential.