Gamecocks Position Unit Preview: Running Backs
Who will step up in a loaded South Carolina backfield?
By Chris Phillips - August 1, 2017
Last season was a youth movement across the South Carolina Gamecocks roster, and the running back position was no different. Will Muschamp annointed then-freshman A.J. Turner the starter in fall camp, after former Gamecocks RB and current Arkansas transfer David Williams appeared to be in the HC’s doghouse. Rico Dowdle began the year injured and inserted himself in the lineup at the same time QB Jake Bentley took over the starting role. Dowdle flourished, rushing for 764 yards and 6 TD’s in just seven starts. With A.J. Turner’s return and the insertion of highlty touted transfer Ty’son Williams, this should be one of the deepest position groups on South Carolina’s roster.
Meet The Running Backs…
RB – #5 Rico Dowdle, Soph / #27 Ty’Son Williams, Soph / #25 AJ Turner, Soph
*Bold indicates starter
Most To Prove
Ty’son Williams. Williams saw very limited action in 2015 as a Tar Heel, rushing for just 57 yards on 19 attempts. Due to transfer rules, he was forced to sit out last season, only being able to practice with the scout team. Williams faces a lot of hype this season and showed flashes of what he can do in the Garnet & Black Spring Game. His shiftiness and quickness should make him a major weapon in this offense, but it will be up to Williams to push Rico Dowdle for the starting role and improve an already impressive backfield. Not having game carries in almost two years can take a toll on a player. He’ll need to shake off the cobwebs early to help this South Carolina offense.
Rico Dowdle. Rico enters this season as by far the most proven RB of the three. Dowdle surged, along with the rest of the offense, in the second half of last season and solidified himself as the undoubted #1 back. His tough running style and refusal to go down made him a nightmare for defenses last fall. He also showed just how good his moves can be when he embarrassed a Tennessee defender in the Gamecocks upset win last season. Look for more of the same from Rico Dowdle as he will have a great chance to become the first Gamecock to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season since 2013. Season Will Be Successful If…
Season Will Be Successful If…
1500 yards and 10+ TDs. While Rico Dowdle may not get to the 1,000 yard mark alone, this backfield as a whole should have a fantastic year. Rico Dowdle brings a physicality and will only get better with another year of experience under his belt. Ty’son Williams bring a home-run threat to the backfield and has the ability to make a defender miss anytime he touches the ball. I expect A.J. Turner to remain a large part of the offense, with OC Kurt Roper utilizing him in the screen game and on HB draws. While much of this unit’s performance depends on the play of their offensive line counterparts, look for the South Carolina RB unit to take big strides in 2017 with all three players contributing in some form or fashion.
Overall Unit Grade…
B+. In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated units on the Gamecocks roster. The only thing holding this unit back from an “A” rating is a lack of a veteran leader. Besides that, this should be a banner year at the RB position for South Carolina. Look for all three of these guys to push each other all year and benefit from that friendly competition. This will be one of the more talked about units in the SEC come season’s end.
August 1, 2017