Replacing arguable the best back in Utah football history is a tall task for the crew that will line up in the backfield in 2016, but make no mistake about it, the running backs that Utah has are very talented. I don't foresee any of these guys having the slippery-ness that Booker had, but they each bring something different to the table, which is why we'll probably see more of a running back by committee approach this season.
The likely starter will be Joe Williams, who took over as starter once Booker went down with his knee injury last season. His profile says he's the fastest returning Utah, running a 4.35 40, so he has a little more top end speed than Booker. Last season, he appeared in 10 games, and started the last three (UCLA, Colorado and BYU). He racked up 477 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season, with 399 of those coming in those last three games. The senior doesn't have the ability to hit the hole quite look Booker, which few do, but he has proven he can carry the ball as a work horse, but that's not what we'll probably see from him this season
Getting plenty of reps will be Troy McCormick, the electrifying back coming off of a torn ACL last spring. The junior from Katy, Texas, gave fans a glimpse of his abilities in the 2014 Las Vegas Bowl against Colorado State, when he rushed for 86 yards on five carries. McCormick is dangerous in the open field, and is hard to tackle. Coaches had big plans for him last season before the knee injury, and are very excited to have him back going into the upcoming season. You'll likely see McCormick lining up all over the field, in the back field,the slot, wide, just to utilize his receiving capabilities. You'll hopefully see him and Williams on the field at the same time through out the season.
Utah also has some young freshmen on the team that could see some action and contribute. First is Marcel Manalo, a red shirt freshman who missed last season after a gun shot injury sidelined him. He played very well during the spring, and raised a lot of eyebrows with his production. He proved hard to bring down, and was able to pick up some tough yards. A just 5-11and 220 pounds, he's a bit of a battering ram, but may see some situations on the field this fall.
Another young one to keep an eye on is Zack Moss. One of the Hallandale three along with QB Tyler Huntley and WR Demari Simpkins, Moss was one that Utah had to fight for. Tennessee and Miami (who he committed too prior to Utah) came hot and heavy after Moss before signing day. If you follow Moss on Twitter, you've seen he is an impressive young man, with a college ready body. Although he wasn't on campus for spring, coaches went after him with the intent of him playing early. He's got a little bit of Booker in him, with some of his ability to change direction and to break through tackles. Now we'll have to see if he can translate that to the college level, but fans should be excited for this kid.
Utah's got some really good depth at running back, and fans shouldn't see too much of a drop from Booker to this crew, but I don't know if we'll see the highlights that Booker provided us, because he was just so special. However, with this returning offensive line, and with as much talent as Utah has in the backfield, we should see a potent running game to help a first year starting QB get comfortable.