With Joe Williams graduating and moving on to the NFL after a 1,400 yard season, the Utes find themselves having to replace another majorly productive running back. With that said, the Utes have some great talent on the roster that showed some flashes last year, including during Joe’s absence. Let’s dive into some of the backs that will be competing for touches going into the season.
Armand Shyne - Junior
The JC running back was really starting to emerge last year, in the wake of Joe Williams “retirement.” He had 373 yards before blowing out his knee against Arizona, thus is what helped lead Joe to come back. Shyne showed a lot of similar traits to Devontae Bookerl; he’s allusive, has nice vision, and also showed some power as well. I was loving what I was seeing in his short action as a starter. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, which is a nice average, and seemingly would get stronger as the game went along - similar to Booker. Depending on his health going into fall camp, he’ll be one of the leaders to take over the starting roll in 2017, but will have some serious competition.
Zack Moss - Sophomore
The other guy that took starting snaps in 2016, and will be one of the main contenders to take the starting roll in 2017 is Moss. Moss may be the most talented guy on the roster. He made some freshman mistakes last season, but his body and his shiftyness made him beyond intriguing, especially as a freshman playing at the Pac-12 level. Moss rushed for 382 yards on the season, including a couple of 90 yard performances early in the season, one of which was against USC. Moss is no doubt the future of the position for Utah, the question will be will he be the main starter going into 2017?
Devonta’e Henry-Cole - Sophomore
Henry-Cole, another youngster from Florida, is another interesting prospect, and he had a great spring, with Shyne out and Moss missing much of camp. Henry-Cole is fast, being clocked with a 4.43 40, and showedsome change of direction ability during spring that was fun to watch. With his size and speed, I think we could see him lineing up in the slot quite a bit, as well as taking some dump off passes out of the backfield. I anticipate more running back passes in Troy Taylor’s offense, and I think Henry-Cole will benefit from that.
TJ Green - Freshman
Green is coming onto campus as one of the best recruits out of Arizona this past season, and is an absolute burner. Who knows where he’ll be in terms of comfort of the game, but the early returns out of Arizona is that he was one heck of a recruit. Do I think we’ll see him playing much at running back this coming season, no I don’t, but I think he’s one to keep an eye on as time goes along.
With that said, with the new offense, I think this will be a running back by committee type of thing under Troy Taylor. I think Moss is the most talented of the group, but Shyne has a great feel for the game. Those two will take most of the reps, in my opinion, and Henry-Cole will take the rest. This is a deep group, and one I’m excited to watch over the fall and into the season.