Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 VT Preview - Running Backs

Does Tech have a stable of strong running backs or a group of five mediocre running backs that will take turns failing to meet expectations? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Here are the primary candidates to get carries in 2008:

Jahre Cheeseman - Jr. - Has shown a knack for breaking off big runs. Had Tech's longest carry of 2007 when he had a 70-yard burst against Georgia Tech. Likely to be the starter against ECU. Broke his left fibula during a scrimmage during spring practice.

Kenny Lewis
- Jr. - Has the most experience among Tech's running backs. Will miss the beginning of the season after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Is a short, shifty back that can work as a change-of-pace back or a third down specialist. However, I don't think his frame and injured shoulder would allow him to get the majority of the carries.

Darren Evans - RFr. - Bigger, between-the-tackles running back.

Josh Oglesby - RFr. - Could have the most talent among any of the running backs, according to coach Billy Hite. If he puts in the work and impresses the coaches during fall practice, could get a big share of the carries with Cheeseman.

Both Evans and Oglesby need more work at pass blocking.

Ryan Williams
- TFr. - Fan favorite because he was a big-name recruit and since he hasn't played yet, hasn't done anything to piss off the fan base. He's the wild card in the race for carries. He'll have to have a helluva fall practice, especially with regards to pass blocking, to convince coaches he's ready for early carries. Hey, it took Oklahoma four games to name Adrian Peterson starting running back in 2004. And his main competition was Kejuan Jones. Even if the rest of the backs are incredibly mediocre, Williams won't get a lot of playing time from the beginning.

Dustin Pickle - Sr. - Salem's Dustin Pickle saw some time in mop-up duty last year and even had a big run against Miami that got the biggest cheers from the Hokie fan I was watching the game with and myself during the game. I like Pickle, but if he ever sees significant time, the Hokies are in trouble.

The Hokies need Williams to live up to the hype, but it will likely be Cheeseman getting the bulk of the early carries. However, I don't think any of the running backs that aren't Williams are good enough to make the Hokies a Top 10 team.

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