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Charting the Depths: Running Back

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Back from vacation with your favorite ongoing segment, this time taking a look at running back. Lets get to it.

1. Keegan Herring, Sr, 5'10, 195lbs

2007 Stats - 154 att, 815 yards, 5.3 average, 5 TD, lng 76, 10 receptions for 88 yards.

The elusive, big play back is the defacto starter entering the season, and it will be interesting to see what he can pull of his senior year. The definiton of a "boom" or "bust" back, Herring had some incredible performances (161 yards 8.5 average 2 tds against SD State/119 yards 11.9 average 1 TD against Washington/ 116 yards 5.5 average 1 td against UCLA) and some complete duds (19 yards, 1.9 average against Colorado/ 6 yards 2 average against Oregon State / 5 yards .05 average against USC)... was this result of our blockers failing against superior D-Lines? Or Herring failing against said D-Lines? For our sake, let us hope it is the former...

Herring combines unique speed with excellent vision, and a penchant for holding onto the ball (0 fumbles in over 400 career carries). He is not much of a threat receiving out of the backfield, but that really is not a part of our offense. He should see continued growth and look for him to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this season.

2. Dimitri Nance, Junior, 5'10, 220lbs

2007 stats - 133 carries, 500 yards, 3.8 average, 7 TD, 13 receptions for 120 yards.

The "thunder" to Herring's "lightning", Nance will be the complimentary power back to show a different look to defenses and provide short yardage carries for the Devils. Nance had no real big games last season, except a strong showing against Washington, and will look to use his increased size to try and shed a few more tacklers this season. Nance also has a surprising ability to turn his receptions up field for positive yardage.

After the top two, it gets a little muddled so we will just talk about who else is competing for PT this year.

3. Shaun DeWitty, RS-JR, 6'2, 227lbs (!)

A huge back, DeWitty is an absolute beast and is a great blocker. He played in 2005 and 2006, but then redshirted last season. It will be interesting to see how Erickson will use him this year, but it will most likely be in a power role, or a pass blocking, single back type role.

4. Ryan Bass, Fr, 5'10, 200lbs

The super freshman recruit who runs a 4.4 40 with power should be an intriguing component to the offense. Freshman can never really be counted on, but Bass was ranked in the Rivals.com top 100 (91) and was the #2 all purpose back in the country. His senior year he ran 345 times for 2,608 yards and 47 TDs. Uh. Wow.

5. Jarrell Woods, Jr, 5'10, 212 lbs

JC transfer from 2007, only game he played in was the Holiday Bowl. Should see some playing time this year.

6. Cole Ptacek - Practice squad walk on.

EDIT: Thanks to user mlev

7. James Morrison - walk on player who had a nice showing at the scrimmage, 12 carries for 85 yards. Shown interest from half the Pac-10 schools and Boise State, but offered no scholarships. Not listed on the official school roster, we will see what happens with him.

Overall grade: B+

With Herring and Nance the Sun Devils have two capable, but not supurb, backs who will be able to carry the load. Herrings speed and Nance's power will be talked about plenty, but their inconsistency against top rush defenses and a shaky O-line will put the run game to the test. Georgia will be tough. DeWitty is an interesting tool for certain formations, and if Bass is able to contribute as a freshman this grade could go up by the end of the year.