B/R’s offseason series is rolling along with the running backs.
In the spring, we outlined the most productive returning backfields with no emphasis on projection. This time around, we’re projecting the groups that will actually be the best on the field within each conference.
The list is subjective but focuses on projected efficiency while also considering established talent.
American: UCF Knights
Last season, UCF paced the American with 5.4 yards per carry. The 2022 season may bring more of the same.
Isaiah Bowser scampered for 803 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games last season, and Johnny Richardson ripped off 733 at a sizzling 7.1 yards per attempt. He also caught 25 passes for 226 yards, finishing the season with 959 yards from scrimmage.
Rounding out the depth is Mark Antony Richards, who added 309 yards and five touchdowns in his first year after transferring from Auburn.
UCF returns three starters on the offensive line and plucked veteran tackle Ryan Swoboda from Virginia. Throw in the mobile threat of expected quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, and this backfield should be electric.
ACC: Syracuse Orange
After leading the ACC in rushing yards per game in 2021, Syracuse must replace only one member of the offensive line.
That’s awfully good news for Sean Tucker.
Over the past two seasons, he’s rushed for 2,122 yards and 16 touchdowns. Tucker finished with the sixth-most yards (1,496) in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season.
Between him and dual-threat QB Garrett Shrader, the remainder of Syracuse’s running backs accounted for just 34 carries in 2021. However, the Orange can deepen the rotation with Juwuan Price, who tallied 693 yards and 10 touchdowns with New Mexico State in 2022.