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Utah Football 2015: Running Backs

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 season was the best season Utah has had as a member of the Pac-12, and arguably one of the best in program history. Even 10 years ago, Utes fans would have never believed that in one season Utah would beat Michigan, UCLA, USC and Stanford. Well, that was due in part not only because of a dominating defense and special teams, but also because of an extremely productive running game.

During the 2014 season, the Utes rushed for almost 2,500 yards as a team, averaging just shy of 200 per game. Of course, that was due primarily to an improved offensive line, as well as the addition of "The Beast," aka "Bookmode," Devontae Booker. If I remember correctly, there was one writer on Block U that predicted how important Booker would be in the 2014 campaign. But that was the past. Let's take a look forward to what the Utes have coming back in the backfield for the 2015 season.

Devontae Booker (senior):

The aforementioned Booker has decided to return to school for his senior season, especially after the mass exodus of running backs to the NFL around the rest of the country. Booker, a first team All-Pac-12 running back, returns to the U after rushing for just over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was the one constant for the Utah offense in 2014, and was unstoppable in many games. Teams like Oregon State, USC and Colorado State in the bowl game, knew what was coming, but couldn't stop The Beast. Booker will return to the team as the top back in the Pac-12, and possibly the country. With Booker toting the rock for the Utes, Utah's offense actually saw growth from 2013 to 2014. Thanks to him (and of course a much improved O-line), the Utes were third in the conference in rushing, only behind Oregon and UCLA.

Booker is the ultimate building block going into 2015, and as long as they get consistency at quarterback, and of course a competent play caller, the Utes could take another step forward.

Bubba Poole (senior):

Arguably one of the most underutilized weapons in 2014 was Bubba Poole. While Booker was, and is, no doubt the man, Poole was a nice change of pace, and provided an excellent option when he was in the game with Booker at the same time. Poole rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns, but saw a majority of his usage early on in the season, and some sporadic moments through the conference season, most notably in the Oregon game.

Whoever the offensive coordinator ends up being in 2015, hopefully, he can find a way to use Poole more with Booker. Poole has proven that he can gash defenses, although he is not an every down, workhorse back.

Troy McCormick (RS sophomore):

Troy McCormick may be the Utes best kept secret. For the last couple of fall camps, we've heard how explosive and dynamic McCormick can be in the open field. While I expected to see him more in 2014, the flashes he gave us in the Vegas Bowl against Colorado State should have whet a lot of Utes fans' appetites. McCormick rushed for only 178 yards in 2014, but 86 of those yards came against CSU on only five carries!

In 2015, I'm hoping to see him used in a similar manner to the role I want for Bubba Poole. Although, I think McCormick could be split out more in the slot and play a DeAnthony Thomas type role. As McCormick matures and gains experience, he may be the Utes primary weapon once Booker is gone.

Marcel Brown (incoming recruit):

Marcel Brown (6-0, 212 pounds), a three-star-rated running back by, will be joining the Utes roster in 2015 and should add some depth to the position. Brown is supposed to be a running back similar to Devontae Booker and should make a nice addition to the squad, and, hopefully, be ready to possibly take over once Booker and Poole are gone.


Monte Seabrook and Dre'Vian Young are still listed on the roster as running backs, but I would not be surprised to see these two move to other positions permanently, specifically Seabrook. He seems destined for the secondary. Young is a speedster that can run a 4.4, 40 and may stay at running back for depth reasons, but we'll have to see if they experiment with him at another position in spring ball.

Running back may be the deepest position on offense going into 2015, and Devontae Booker is the reason why. With most of the offensive line returning with the running backs, Utah's running game should be just as potent, if not more so during the 2015 season.