Position Preview: Running Backs

An Ole Miss position-by-position breakdown heading into camp …

Jeff Scott, now a senior, is back to lead a group short on experienced depth but with exciting potential.

Scott rushed for 846 yards – leading the team — and six touchdowns last year when the Rebels also had the versatile Randall Mackey behind him.

Behind Scott returning backs totaled only 54 attempts. Most of those went to a couple of exciting freshmen, I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.

They are last remembered for big games in Compass Bowl, taking up the slack when Scott was shaken up and on the sideline.

Walton, the first up, did a good job of bouncing off contact with 56 yards on 10 carries. Mathers ripped off 62-yard touchdown run late in the game and finished with 96 yards on six carries.

Both of them had done good things early in the season but had seen their opportunities diminish with the coming of conference play.

Last August Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze seemed to like Mathers in short-yardage situations near the goalline. This team needs a back who can break through contact, and Mathers will get a look there.

Youthful excitement doesn’t end with Mathers and Walton. Freshman Mark Dodson enrolled early and had a very productive spring showing a nice mix of speed and power before turning an ankle in the spring game.

Three more freshmen join the mix now – Eugene Brazley, Kailo Moore and Jordan Wilkins. Brazley and Moore are speed guys. Wilkins, a four-star prospect form Cordova, Tenn., is listed at 210 in the media guide making him the second-biggest back on the roster behind Nick Parker.

Parker, a heralded recruit from South Panola, is back as a fourth-year junior but has seen very little playing time throughout his career. He appeared in seven games last year and carried four times.

While every team needs a banger that’s not how Freeze’s offense is built.

Scott and Walton are shifty backs who can make would-be tacklers miss and do good things in the open field.

Walk-on Darryan Ragsdale fits that description as well. A sophomore, Ragsdale rushed for 658 yards and three touchdowns at Hinds CC last season. He had some nice runs in the spring, but it will be tough for him to find his way to the field with the bodies ahead of him and the bodies coming in.

You’ll hear the word “depth” quite a bit in the coming weeks. This is one position where the Rebels have it, although it comes with an asterisk for inexperience.

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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