Ole Miss Rebel Football 2013 Position Preview: Running Backs

US PRESSWIRE

Who will be running the ball this year for the Rebels? There are a lot of options.

Last Season

It was pretty much the Jeff Scott show with some help from Randall Mackey. Scott rushed for 846 yards at 4.3 yards per carry. He did very well in the read-option game, selling the handoff well and finding holes. Scott didn't ever really have a prolific run that we all expected, but he was very steady. He did however have a prolific touchdown catch and run against Auburn. Perhaps you remember it...

Mackey had 325 yards on the ground and another 346 receiving. He was often used in the slot in an effort to confuse opposing defenses. Itavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton had limited impacts until the bowl game, when Scott went out with a hamstring injury. In that game, both did good things, helping the Rebels demolish what was statistically a fine defense. Overall, the backs were good but not great.

This Season

Scott returns and is the likely carry leader, but he may not be used quite as much as he was last season. The Rebels signed three four-star halfbacks in February, not to mention Jaylen Walton and Itavius Mathers returning. With the number of capable backs high, expect to see a little bit more of a committee approach. Scott is shifty but began becoming a more complete back last season. Mathers is likely the short yardage back, at least early in the season. Walton can be used in the slot or the backfield and is very shifty. The emergence of other backs also has allowed us to try Jeff Scott in the return game. That's a place where he could likely make a big difference.

The Incoming Class

The Rebels signed four-stars Kailo Moore, Jordan Wilkins, and Mark Dodson, along with three-star Eugene Brazley. Brazley suffered a season-ending injury during the Summer, but the other three are good to go. They're quite different backs, which makes them all the more interesting. Moore is a speedy back who is the fastest player on the team (at least in the 100 yard dash). The coaches have already begun implementing him in the "Mackey" role. That's likely a good place for him, as his speed in the slot could be very useful. Wilkins is more of a bruiser, who will likely compete with Mathers for short yardage and goal-line duties. Dodson is, by all accounts, a complete back who can be used in a number of different ways. All three are expected to play, even if most of their action is seen on special teams.

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