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Utah Football Pre-Season Position Preview: Running Backs

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The running back position is the least of Utah's worries heading into the 2015 season. Utah's identity on offense last season was clearly it's run game, namely Devontae Booker. With no drastic improvements at the quarterback or receiver positions and with Booker's return as the top back in the Pac-12, Utah will rely heavily on the running game to spur offensive production and open up the passing lanes for the quarterbacks.

The running game for Utah in 2015 will essentially be a one man show, with Booker getting as many carries as he wants. As menitoned earlier, Booker is the bell cow for this Utah offense. After rushing for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns, and accounting for around 30% of the team's offensive yards a year ago, Booker has his eyes set on loftier goals this season. Among them, rush for over 2,000 yards and win the Heisman Trophy.

Acheiving both those goals would be a monumental feat for the senior running back. Booker would be the first Utah player to ever eclipse 2,000 yards and only the 25th player to do it in the college ranks. Winning the Heisman would mean Utah would likely have to win at least 10 games and possibly compete in the college football playoff. If Booker can simply run in the same bruising style and provide a recieving threat out of the backfield like he did a year ago, the Utah coaches will be happy.

Booker won't have to carry the load alone this season however. Junior college transfer Joe Williams entered the mix over the summer, and quickly showed he could serve as Booker's sidekick at the running back position this season. At 5-11 200 lbs. Williams is a few pounds lighter than Booker, but still runs well between the tackles, showing power and ability to break tackles. Williams is also a true break away threat, clocking a 4.38 40-yard dash this summer. His speed was on display during his 60 yard touchdown scamper during Utah's first scrimmage, when he broke through the line and out ran the defensive backs into the end zone. He has two years to play two and will provide a good change of pace when Booker needs a breather.

Behind Booker and Williams, Utah has some good depth with guys like Monte Seabrook and Dre'Vian Young. Both Seabrook and Young are quite a bit smaller than either Booker or Williams, and play more in the mold of Troy McCormick, who was lost for the season with a serious knee injury. Seabrook has especially shown some flashes getting around the corner and using his speed to make yards where it looked like a play was dead. Seabrook has also spent some time at receiver, and has been all over the field in practice. He likely will see the field in some capacity this season, though it will probably be mostly on designed plays such as end arounds and screens. Young is another player that could be used in similar fashion and showed some flashes himself this summer after sitting out spring with an injury.

Utah also brought on a few new players at the running back position, among them freshman Marcel Brooks-Brown, a 5-11 205 lb. back out of California. The true freshman was listed as a three star recruit by both Rivals and Scout and was a very productive player at the high school level. Brooks-Brown has the natural talent to develop into a contributor, but coaches noted he still needs to work on his conditioning.

A familiar face rejoined the program this summer. Marcus Sanders-Williams who had asked for his release to explore other options during the spring, returned to the team this August. The Junior originally came to Utah as a running back before switching to linebacker last season. Since returning to the program, he is back at running back, adding to the depth at the position. He's a big powerful player and has drawn comparisons to former Ute Karl Williams from offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. He will see most of his playing time on special teams but could be used as a blocking back at times during the year.