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Projecting the Depth Chart: Running Backs

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There’s more potential than actual depth in the backfield.

South Florida v Cincinnati Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We’ve come to the close of running backs week, which means its time to put forth projections for the depth chart for this positional group. A new offensive system may utilize the position in different ways and that could be exciting. With Mike Denbrock orchestrating, the Cincinnati Bearcats may utilize backs in the passing game more frequently and hopefully will try to get guys in open space more often than last year, when it looked like whoever carried the ball was trying to break a run off in a phone booth.

Definite Starter

Mike Boone

Who else could it be? Boone is the team’s leading returning rusher and has the explosive ability to be reborn as a waking nightmare that haunts the moments of all American Athletic Conference defenses. Boone ripped apart defenses from front to back in his first two seasons, and glimpses of that potential shown through last year as he struggled both with production and health. He will be the starter all by himself this season, which means his workload will likely increase and with that, hopefully his success will as well.

Position Battles

Really, there are battles the entire length of the depth chart after Boone. Even though the senior is primed to be an every down type back, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be used that way. If we go based on what has worked in the past, having more than one back get a fair amount of touches will keep the offense fresh and present different challenges for defenses. That means the makeup of the depth chart behind Boone will be important. While its unlikely we’ll see the same type of three-pronged attack that was featured in 2015 with Hosey Williams, Tion Green and Boone, there’s every reason to believe Boone’s backup will get a healthy number of carries, while the third and fourth backs will get some spare game time as well.

As we outlined earlier this week, Gerrid Doaks, Taylor Boose, Michael Warren II and Jaelen Greene are all in the running for second team reps.

Final Projection

Mike Boone, RB1

Gerrid Doaks, RB2

Michael Warren II, RB3

Taylor Boose, RB4

Jaelen Greene, RB5

Doaks and Boose are the veterans behind Boone, with each having at least some college experience. Doaks performed well on the practice squad last season and the 6’0’, 222-pound back from Indianapolis seems poised to get a chance this year. Boose is a sophomore who has some actual game experience and a ton fo speed, but Warren II is one of the better recruits for the 2017 class and will be competing for a starting gig sooner rather than later. That makes me think that the coaching staff may decide to get him into games right away to speed up his development.