Probably the best thing anyone could call this past season for the B-backs is a transition year. Coming into the season, Tech lost two phenomenal B-backs in Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days, while also losing the top back-up in Matt Connors.
Early on, it looked like the two main guys that would be competing to replace Laskey and Days were C.J. Leggett and early enrollee Quaide Weimerskirch. There were talks that Mikell Lands-Davis and Marcus Marshall would be given an opportunity, but Leggett and Weimerskirch were pretty much all Tech had to work with at first. And then things started going downhill very quickly. Both Leggett and Weimerskirch ended up getting hurt and not playing at all this season.
From there, Tech brought in grad transfer Patrick Skov from Stanford and also moved B-back-turned-linebacker-turned-wide receiver Marcus Allen back to B-back, where he was originally recruited, with the idea that the two remaining freshmen would come in and compete for the third string job. And that's pretty much how it went. Marshall ended up being the guy at B-back, which allowed Lands-Davis to get some time at A-back.
So going into the season, Tech had a three-headed attack of Skov, Allen and Marshall at B-back. That's a guy who is pretty much the literal definition of a prototypical fullback, a guy who moved pretty much everywhere to keep from getting buried on the depth chart and a true freshman. Sounds like the beginning of a terrible joke.
In all of that, though, the B-backs actually weren't that bad, specifically Marshall, who was practically the starter by the end of the season. Marshall led the way with 86 carries for a team-high 654 yards (7.6 yards/carry) and four touchdowns. Absorbing the other major chunk of carries was Skov, who finished with 93 carries for 377 yards (4.1 yards/carry) and a team-high six touchdowns. Marcus Allen spent various parts of the season injured, but still finished with 35 carries for 166 yards (4.7 yards/carry) and two touchdowns.
So all in all, Tech's main B-backs went for 215 carries for 1,197 yards (5.6 yards/carry) and 12 touchdowns. Combined, those aren't bad numbers by any stretch of the imagination. They are more transitional, though, in that they aren't on par with what CPJ wants out of his B-backs, which I believe to be closer to the 1,500-1,600-yard range.
The only guy that Tech loses here is Patrick Skov. While Skov didn't live to some of the impossible expectations that some gave him, he still proved to be a serviceable battering ram for short-yardage and goal line situations. One thing that you knew he wasn't going to do was lose yards. Throughout the entire season, those 377 yards that Skov carried were also his net yards (yards gained-yards lost), meaning that he did not lose a yard all season, which is a key goal for a battering ram.
Right now, Tech only has one B-back signed up in its recruiting class, but in Dedrick Mills, the Yellow Jackets are getting a good one. He brings good, college-ready size at 5-foot-10, 211 lbs. and some serious speed. Someone mentioned in the comments the other day that Mills had been clocked at around a 4.4 40-yard dash, which is mightily impressive. I also love that while Mills doesn't shy away from contact, he's not like Skov or PJ Daniels, both of whom sought out that contact. He has the ability and speed to find the hole and burst right through it.
Tech also had a couple of true freshmen at B-back this past season that redshirted. I already mentioned Weimerskirch, and the other one who was originally thought to come in at A-back, but seems destined for B-back is KirVonte Benson.
Weimerskirch is more of the battering ram type. He's big, strong and will run you over. He probably won't ever be the stud 1,000-yard rusher at B-back, but he will provide Tech with that consistent power threat for short yardage and goal line situations.
Benson, on the other hand, is a home run threat, similar to Mills and Marcus Marshall. This is something I've started to notice with Tech's recruiting of B-backs lately. They've been looking for those guys who have the speed to make it to the second and third levels of the defense and break off those massive runs. It's a quality that Tech has severely lacked since the day Jonathan Dwyer announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft, so it's good to see that we're finding players who can fit into that mold.
Depth Chart Breakdown
|Position||First String||Second String|
|B-back||Marcus Marshall OR
Marcus Allen OR
I think Tech's group of B-backs will probably end up looking pretty similar to what they did this past year, but with Weimerskirch taking Skov's place and C.J. Leggett potentially usurping Marcus Allen.
One thing is clear in the B-backs: Marcus Marshall will get carries there. While he did have some growing pains, mostly in the form of fumbles, he was Tech's most explosive B-back last season. His speed and ability to find the hole were outstanding and with another year under his belt, I think he could eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season.
One guy that I didn't list here that could also make an impact at B-back is Mikell Lands-Davis. Right now, I have Lands-Davis penciled in at A-back, but with a good showing at B-back in the Spring, or if injuries arise (*knocks on wood*), Lands-Davis would have a pretty shot at getting the job at B-back, especially since that's what he was brought in to do originally.
Right now, I think Leggett, Mills and Benson are all wildcards, but then again, I think the same thing of this entire position group. I fit six names into two spots because at this point, there's no telling how this is going to play out. One thing is certain though: Tech's got some serious potential at B-back. They just have to develop into some legitimate playmakers outside of Marcus Marshall.