WVU currently has the following running backs on its roster:
- Rushell Shell 5’10” 215
- Wendell Smallwood 5’11” 200
- Prentice Tillman 5’9″ 175
- Donte Thomas-Wiliams 6’1″ 232
Of this group Shell and Smallwood are the only ones with playing time. In 2014, Shell had 176 rushing attempts for 788 yards and 7 touchdowns and Smallwood had 148 rushing attempts for 722 yards and 2 touchdowns.
For 2015, the coaches added 6’1″ 238 lb former TE/FB Elijah Wellman to the RB position. Wellman had 2 carries for 4 yards with no touchdowns along with 4 receptions for 11 yards and 1 touchdown in 2014.
He has previously been used primarily as a blocking back, but Coach JuJuan Seider believes he could be an asset carrying the ball. In 2014, some people thought Wellman could be the next Owen Schmitt. He will have an opportunity to show it this fall.
Wellman may not have the speed of Thomas-Williams, but he is a power runner, and has a running style similar to Schmitt in that he likes to bowl over defenders. Wellman and DTW will be the power backs for WVU in 2015. This could really help WVU in short yardage situations.
DTW was recruited for his power running ability, and according to the coaches is ready to play. Coaches, players and fans are all expecting a lot from him this season. DTW could be the one WVU running back that could put pressure on Shell and possibly replace him as the starting running back.
With two power running backs and an offensive line with improved run blocking skills, short yardage situations for WVU should be less of an issue.
There is also a possibility that 5’11” 165 lb incoming freshman Jacquez Adams could be added this list. A dual threat quarterback in high school, Adams was recruited as an athlete. Do not be surprised if you see him in 7 on 7s with the RBs when he arrives on campus in June .
The speed and agility of Jacquez Adams could easily have him competing for playing time. That could depend upon his physical conditioning when he arrives and how quickly he can learn Holgorsen’s offense. He’ll also have to prove he can block, As Coach Seider stresses, if you can’t block you won’t get on the field.
The addition of Wellman brings the number of running backs back up to 5, and I expect Adams to make it 6. He could be a nice replacement for Andrew Buie.
Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Edited by Michael Walker