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Ole Miss football 2020 preview: Running Back

The known commodities are there but a new name has emerged.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

Despite the off-season, spring, AND fall camps being affected by COVID-19, college football is back, and the Ole Miss Rebels kick things off September 26th against the Florida Gators. Until then, we are going to dive into the position groups and what we expect from them during this 10-game abbreviated schedule.

In 2019, there was an influx of talent and production from two freshmen: Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy.

The two Mississippi natives combined for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns in their first action in the red and blue. All the while splitting carries with Scottie Phillips. Not bad, right? Now, in Lane Kiffin and Jeff Lebby’s offense, they aim to surpass those totals and then some.

Grayson Weir and myself took a look at Conner and Ealy’s game in comparison to two former Kiffin pupil’s in Los Angeles, Reggie Bush and LenDale White, and we think that the Rebels will try to utilize them in some semblance of a similar two-back scheme. One, to lighten the load when they go tempo and push the pace. And two, both are immensely talented and it would be silly to sacrifice riding one all game and wearing down the tread on the proverbial tires.

Conner is a great mix of a throwback, between the tackles bruiser and a burner when he gets to the open field. Ealy gets all the fanfare for the home run speed, but Snoop is no baby.

Both Kiffin and Lebby love utilizing the run game to generate momentum when setting things up with the passing game and I expect Conner to get a ton of looks early and often in 2020, especially in the red zone when they need to get physical at the line of scrimmage.

Ealy, well, we all know about Mr. Runaround.

The guy can pick them up and put them down in a hurry and he is going to be a joy to watch in this offense. He will be used in a traditional sense in zone read looks and counters like the one you see above, but I am anticipating him being utilized as a weapon out of the backfield in the passing game.

Both play callers love the screen game and finding mismatches with skill players in the open field and Ealy is an absolute nightmare for an unsuspecting linebacker or run-stopping safety. Both Conner and Ealy are going to be a joy to watch in this offense this season.

But, despite all that, one guy in the running back room is stealing the show early in fall camp: true freshman Henry Parrish.

The Goulds, Fla. native picked the Rebels over a host of Power 5 offers from Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina, and Tennessee among several others. As a senior, Parrish ran for 2,319 yards and 28 touchdowns, leading Columbus to an 11-4 record and Class 8A State title.

Since arriving in Oxford, Parrish has turned heads with his breakaway speed and physical style of play. His lateral quickness and shiftiness in close spaces reminds me of former Oregon running back LaMichael James. He is tough to bring down because of his quick-twitch jukes, but he also brings the wood with a strong lower half and exceptional balance.

Coaches are raving about Parrish’s performance so far in camp and running backs coach Kevin Smith has been excited about him since he committed to the Rebels back in January. Henry gives Ole Miss yet another weapon at running back and I fully expect his career in Oxford to get off to a hot start on September 26th.