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2014 Outlook: BYU Running Backs

16 January 2014 Brett Richins
BYU running back Jamaal Williams. (BYU photo)

BYU running back Jamaal Williams. (BYU photo)

No position group for BYU is in any better shape for the 2014 season than the running backs.

The Cougars have a full-fledged star in the backfield they can ride next year and plenty of talented depth they can mix in with him.

As a sophomore last season, Jamaal Williams (6-0, 200 Jr.) rushed for 1,233 yards, good for No. 25 in the country.

The 18-year old has already moved up to tenth on the school’s career rushing list with his 2,008 yards on the ground.

If he were to duplicate his 2013 rushing numbers next year, Jamaal would move into the No. 2 position all-time behind only Harvey Unga.

Assuming that he stays healthy and plays a full four years, it looks like he will have a chance to smash the career rushing record at BYU before he’s done.

Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill (6-2, 221 Jr.) were the only duo from the same school to both average more than 100 rushing yards per game this past year. However, the Cougars are likely to look for ways to better protect their signal caller from taking so many hits next season, which means that Jamaal could see more than the 217 carries he got last year.

With Hill’s declared goal of improving himself as a passer for next season, its also likely that Williams will see his role in the passing game expand. In 2013, he caught just 18 passes for 125 yards in BYU’s read-option offense. Compare that to his freshman season when he had 27 receptions for 315 yards in less time on the field.

Paul Lasike (6-0, 227 Sr.) , Algernon Brown (6-1, 219 So.) and Adam Hine (6-1, 202 Jr.) were the primary players to share time with Williams in the BYU backfield last year.

Lasike’s hard-nosed running style has made him a fan favorite in Provo. His 356 rushing yards were third-best on the team in 2013, and his 5.9 per carry average speaks to fact that he has some break away speed to go along with his power.

The rugby star had his best performances on some of BYU’s biggest stages last season. At Notre Dame, he rushed for 101 yards on just four carries, while his 87 yards on the ground against Texas turned out to be his second-best output of the year.

Brown returned home from his mission to Brazil and proceeded to rush for 239 yards and two touchdowns in limited action. The redshirt freshman demonstrated a lot of promise on his way to averaging 4.9 yards per carry.  He’s another power back in the BYU arsenal who also has some speed in the open field.

Meanwhile, Hine also rushed for 239 yards last year, and like Lasike, he also averaged 5.9 yards per carry. But where he really made his contribution was on kick returns, were he turned out to be one of the nation’s best return men, averaging 27.2 yards per attempt. Adam would start for a lot of teams and a he’s a good insurance policy behind Williams.

In addition to the four above-mentioned running backs, BYU also has A.J. Moore in its stable. The freshman only got two carries, but he flashed some talent with those limited opportunities by averaging nearly 10 yards per attempt. His development will be interesting to watch over the next three years.

One of the questions in the backfield next year surrounds Michael Alisa (6-1, 220 Sr.). Mike called it a season after four games last season because of a groin injury. He’s expected to receive a medical redshirt and come back for a fifth year, but with all of the depth at running back in the program next season, his talents might be better used at linebacker. The Cougars have to replace a number of key linebackers in 2014 and Alisa looked like a star backer in the making as a true freshman.

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