A collective gasp was heard in Utah on Thursday morning when news broke that BYU star running back Jamaal Williams had withdrawn from school and would miss the 2015 season. After all, Williams was sure to be a huge part of the offense as the Cougars face one of their toughest schedules to date. On top of that, he was in position to become the new all-time rushing leader in school history.
While the loss in a painful one, the cupboard isn’t bare in the BYU backfield. There are plenty of talented returning backs and some new additions that should soften the blow.
Here is a look at the best options for the Cougars at running back heading into the 2015 season.
Algernon Brown, 6-1, 229 pounds, junior
Brown is a big physical back who has already produced solid numbers for the Cougars over the last two seasons. He is a good blocker who can also be a weapon catching passes out of the backfield. His best game in 2014 came in the loss to Central Florida when he carried the ball 16 times for 80 yards to go along with two catches for six yards. Chances are that Brown will be at the top of the list to replace Williams and should have a big year.
In two seasons as a Cougar, he has carried the ball 116 times for 558 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 16 catches for 147 yards and another score.
Adam Hine, 6-1, 208 pounds, senior
Plenty was already expected of Hine on special teams, but now he will have to carry much more of the load on offense. While he isn’t the same kind of threat that Brown is as a blocker or receiver, Hine has great open field speed. His best game as a Cougar came against Idaho State in 2013 when he carried the ball 10 times for 141 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run.
In his three seasons with BYU, he has carried the ball 78 times for 378 yards and three touchdowns. He added nine catches for 53 yards and another score.
Nate Carter, 5-9, 181 pounds, senior
Carter might be the most intriguing back of the bunch. His doesn’t have great size, but he is very hard to take down. His best game in 2014 came in the win over Savannah State when he had 20 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. He had another really impressive performance in the loss to Nevada when he carried the ball just seven times for a team-leading 87 yards.
During his time at BYU, he has 47 carries for 291 yards and a touchdown to go along with one catch for eight yards.
A.J. Moore, 5-9, 195 pounds, junior
Moore hasn’t seen much time during his time at BYU, but has had some nice moments. In the 2014 win over Savannah State, he carried the ball 10 times 62 yards and a score.
Some other names to look out for who could earn some touches are Toloa’i Ho Ching, Colby Hansen, Cody Bond and Joshua Whippy.