Without question the biggest hole from the 2011 team that needs to be filled is that of Isaiah Pead. 1,652 yards from scrimmage and 15 TD's is a massive, massive chunk of offense to has to be replaced. With Pead gone the next man on the totem pole is George Winn who is the only scholarship Senior on the roster. Behind him are a bunch of freshmen and sophomores who are talented but young and therefore prone to do young guy things like miss assignments, fumble the ball and drop passes in between dazzling displays of ability. Think Pead circa 2009.
It will be interesting to see how Butch Jones, Mike Bajakian and Mark Elder go about distributing reps this Spring. Do they give them to Winn to get him ready to take on the massive workload that Pead shouldered last year (276 touches from scrimmage). Or conversely do they put more reps towards developing Jameel Poteat and Ralph Abernathy IV so that when the season rolls around in September the workload isn't as big for Winn and the approach is more by committee than anything else.
My guess would be the latter. Winn is capable of doing the job of being the starting running back for this offense. He is a tough runner, maybe not with the burst of Pead, but certainly capable. But the future lies with Poteat and RDA4 (and Ti'on Green, and Deionte Buckley).
The other development to watch with this group won't actually happen during the Spring. That is the enrollment of Aaron Harris and Green in the Summer. Buckley is already on campus and has really blown away his teammates and the coaches with his weight room prowess. He is pushing Winn pretty hard in terms of weight room performance, and Winn has been this groups strong man for at least the past year. Keep in mind that off all the positions running back and wide receiver are by far the easiest to make an impact in. I wouldn't be stunned to see Buck or Green carve out a niche in the rotation this season.
The question for the Running Backs this year won't be about talent or depth because the cup runs over with both in the Running Back room. It will be about fashioning a rotation of these guys with not just this year in mind, but 2013 and 2014 as well. Winn will probably start the majority of games, but I have a feeling that Poteat will emerge as the guy by the end of the season.