After Spring: Running Backs

Good news. This isn’t another blog post talking about a lack of depth.

In fact, it’s the opposite. Running back is the deepest position on the team. There’s a returning starter with All-SEC potential, two exciting up-and-comers, and an early enrollee freshman who didn’t look like he should be getting ready for his high school prom when he went through spring drills with the big boys.

And listing doesn’t even take into account Darryan Ragsdale, a walk-on juco transfer from Hinds and a small, quick back who had some nice runs in the spring, showing an ability to get to the corner.

The position is stacked, and more talent is on the way in Eugene Brazley, Kailo Moore, a four-star sprinter out of Rosedale, and Justin Wilkins, who at 6-1, 210 could be that bigger back you’ve seen me write about before.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maikhail Miller becomes that “bigger back” in short-yardage situations. More on that in a quarterback blog post upcoming.

The experienced starter is Jeff Scott, who will be entering his senior year.

Scott rushed for 846 yards last year and ranks ninth in school history in rushing yards with 1,804 and in all-purpose yards with 2,966. He also ranks 10th in rushing touchdowns with 15.

The up-and-comers are I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton. Both of them did good things early in 2012 then figured into the plans less as SEC play arrived, but both had big performances in the bowl game.

Both also continued their improvement in the spring when Mathers was named most improved offensive player.

Walton is the quicker of the two. Don’t be surprised to see him split wide and line up as a wide receiver on certain plays to help improve depth there. Walton may never actually change positions, but depth being what it is at wide receiver, he’s a guy who could help out there. Moore could perhaps be a guy like that too, and depending now quickly the freshmen adapt, wide receiver depth might not be so bad in August.

Mark Dodson is the early enrollee from Memphis who showed a nice blend of speed and power in the spring, but his most impressive attribute was how quickly he adapted to new surrounding. By the end of the spring he was playing with a slight ankle sprain but continued to play effectively.

Hugh Freeze and running backs coach Derrick Nix are high on sophomores Mathers and Walton, but it won’t be shocking to see Dodson get his snaps too. He may be a little stronger than Mathers on the inside runs.

All in all, it’s a nice group of backs with a lot of potential, not a lot of experience right now behind Scott, but that will come.

This is the position where the Rebels could most easily have a seamless transition with an injury or two.


Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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