Countdown to Kickoff: 28 Days...
Orwin Smith, Jamal Paige
Depth Chart Speculation
|Position||First String||Second String||Third String|
|AB1||Robbie Godhigh (R-Sr)||Synjyn Days (R-Jr)||Charles Perkins (R-Jr)|
B.J. Bostic (R-Jr)
Dennis Andrews (R-Fr)
|Tony Zenon (R-Jr)||Deon Hill (R-Jr)|
As you look at the depth chart, there are two things you should notice. First, Deon Hill is listed in my book as the third-stringer. Hill is good enough of a player that, if he's listed at third string, wow, we must be doing pretty well. The other thing to notice is the class standings. There are 7 players listed there in the 3-Deep, and only one has more than one year of eligibility left after this one. Interesting how this position has gotten so old, where it seems like one that a lot of players eventually make it over to after not panning out elsewhere (see: Days, Synjyn & Perkins, Charles).
You may look up there and wonder how on Earth Dennis Andrews can be listed as a co-starter with B.J. Bostic when considering how much experience and talent everyone else has. My understanding is that Andrews is the real deal at A-Back after working at the position since coming to campus in January of 2012 (he was an early enrollee, remember). He's quick, has good hands, and supposedly has the X-Factor of being a skilled blocker.
The A-Backs weren't done any favors by Orwin Smith's departure after 4 years of solid production, but they're left in a good place. There's a variety of skillsets and skill combinations at their disposal to make whatever they need to accomplish a reality. Days is a bit bigger and has a nice tendency of falling forward, Bostic has great hands but can block really well, Godhigh blocks very well and is a phenomenal ballcarrier, Zenon has good hands and blazing speed....you get the picture. No two guys are identical, and that's a good thing -- it offers Coach Johnson flexibility.
Godhigh will be the obvious incumbent here after being a major breakout player last year, but there's a legitimate possibility that 4 to 5 other guys could see significant time. There's too much talent available at this position to not make the most of it, and I think Johnson plans on taking advantage.
I still believe that Perkins has huge upside, but I'm concerned that his ship has sailed. He's always been a good ballcarrier (he was nearly a Rivals 4-star RB in high school, remember), but has struggled with fumbles and blocking. I have a feeling that nothing will really change this year and that he'll see the occasional snap, but won't be left in the game for significant time.
Days is like a less tragic version of Perkins' situation, and while I thought he would translate REALLY well to A-Back, he's been somewhat underwhelming since switching. Knowing what Deon Hill can do makes me think that Days may have to work to keep his spot in the rotation, lest Hill take over.
It's too early, for me, to speculate on how this position will perform as compared to last year. However, it's not to early to be assured that even without Orwin Smith, this position grouping won't be flatlined. There are plenty of guys with a lot of talent here, and I expect that it's going to turn into a "Next Man Up" situation where there will be little loss of performance, if any.
Are you worried about this position grouping without Orwin Smith? Who do you see stepping up and making a name for himself this year?