With a majority of the focus of the upcoming Clemson Football season being on the talent and power of their veteran defense, the fact that there are multiple positions without sure starters seems to have fallen through the cracks. The running back position is one of them. The Tigers lost their go-to running back Roderick McDowell for the 2014 season along with a number of the biggest names of the Clemson offense.
Now I am not saying that there is no talent left to fill the running back position, but rather that there is a strong enough competition between the remaining players to make the starting position unclear. As of now, senior D.J. Howard is in the lead on the depth chart, but the “backups” could have every opportunity to become the new front-runners this season.
Redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound versatile athlete. He can play both linebacker and running back, but is focusing in on the running back position at Clemson. He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash in high school, and has been described as a “violent” runner by offensive coordinator Chad Morris. His big frame and quick footwork give him the potential to be a standout running back. He is young and has not played in a game yet, but he was rated as the #18 running back in the nation by 247Sports, which was higher than Howard’s high school rating. If Gallman proves his talents early in the season, he has the potential to become a dependable go-to running back for Clemson.
Zac Brooks is another player that is in competition for the starting position. Brooks is a junior who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 190 pounds. He has two years of game playing experience under his belt, which is just one less than Howard. In his career, Brooks has played in 18 games and has 365 yards on 74 carries and two touchdowns. He also has totaled 92 yards and a touchdown from nine receptions. Before Brooks came to Clemson, Rivals ranked him as the #15 athlete in the nation, making him a highly touted four-star recruit. However, he entered Clemson at the time that senior star running back Andre Ellington was thriving. With being one of the more experienced players for the position, Brooks will get playing time, but will need to have a breakout season to remain in competition for the starting position.
Tyshon Dye and C.J Davidson are also talented players expected to contribute to the depth at the running back position. Dye has been suffering from a torn Achilles tendon since February and will need to fully recover before he can be thrown in with the mix of players competing for the position. Davidson walked on to the football team after completing a season with Clemson’s Track team. Last fall, he totaled 231 yards on 57 carries, and was third in rushing touchdowns with four. He has incredible speed and is listed as a backup on the depth chart as well.
Howard is obviously the most experienced player with two career starts and 442 snaps in 36 games. He has scored five touchdowns and has an impressive 581 yards in 133 carries. In his career, he also has 11 receptions for 158 yards. However, Howard has been prone to injuries and will need to remain healthy if he is expected to be the starter.
There are many talented players at this position, and they are all eager to prove themselves worthy of a starting role. The competition for the position should be healthy for the team and the coaches seem excited about these players.
ESPN posted an article in which head coach Dabo Swinney said, “This is probably the best situation we’ve been in at running back in a long time. That’s probably the area offensively we’re most excited about as coaches. We’ve got very good depth there. We’ve got a competitive, talented group that is going to pay good dividends for us this year.”