Although IU will pass the ball more in 2012, it has several options in the backfield alongside quarterback
emerged as a reliable option in Big Ten play last fall. He'll be the lead ball-carrier, but Morehead State transfer
will push for carries after a strong performance this spring.
also should help if they can stay healthy.
New coach Tim Beckman is concerned about the lack of depth here, but he could have two good options in Donovonn Young
and Josh Ferguson
. Young got his feet wet as a freshman and rushed for 451 yards and six touchdowns, while Ferguson sparkled during the spring game and should be a valuable asset if he can stay healthy. The big question is who else emerges in the backfield.
The Wildcats are by no means loaded at running back, but they have fewer depth questions than the other two teams on the list. Mike Trumpy
, who has looked like the team's best back when healthy, returns from a knee injury and likely will enter the fall as the starter. Treyvon Green
also returns, Venric Mark
moves over from receiver and incoming freshman Malin Jones will play a role right away.
If the Hawkeyes had Marcus Coker
and a healthy Jordan Canzeri
, they'd be in the top six. Unfortunately, Iowa has neither player available right now, leaving a group of unproven players. The good news is Iowa always finds someone to carry the ball, and one of its two incoming freshmen -- Greg Garmon or Barkley Hill -- could be the next in line. If not, Iowa will need Damon Bullock
or De'Andre Johnson
to make major strides.
Like Iowa, Minnesota is banking more on potential than anything else. Junior college transfer James Gillum could be the answer to the Gophers' sputtering ground game. Perhaps Donnell Kirkwood
can stay healthy or become a difference maker. But when Kirkwood (63 carries last year) is the top returning rusher outside of quarterback MarQueis Gray
, there's reason to be concerned.