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UTEP Football 2016 Position Group Preview: Running Backs

UTEP came out of Ruidoso with some fresh depth in the backfield.

Projected running back depth chart

  • RB1: Aaron Jones, 5'10, 210 lbs, Junior
  • 2015 stats: 32 carries, 209 yards , 6.5 yards per carry, 0 fumbles
  • RB2: Orion Prescott, 5'8, 190 lbs, Junior
  • 2015 stats: Did not play
  • RB2: Quadraiz Wadley, 6'0, 180 lbs, Freshman
  • RB2: TK Powell, 5'11, 190 lbs, Sophomore
  • 2015 stats: 20 carries, 136 yards
  • RB2: Tyrone Nelson, 5'11, 180 pounds, Freshman
  • RB2: Kevin Dove, 6'0, 250 lbs, Freshman

Getting a healthy Aaron Jones back in the mix is a big overall plus for the UTEP Miners, but finding some running back depth behind Jones is the biggest win of camp so far.

UTEP lost projected backup RB Treyvon Hughes to a knee injury last week after a strong spring that saw Hughes maybe turn a production corner with some added speed, and overall experience.

So in stepped Quadraiz Wadley, Kevin Dove, and Tyrone Nelson who have all drawn praise from head coach Sean Kugler over the final week of Camp Ruidoso.

Sophomore TK Powell has had a quiet fall, and could be redshirted again after having his freshman redshirt pulled before he ran past LA Tech in his UTEP debut. Don’t sleep on TK, but the big question is will we see him in 2016?

Wadley can be described as one of those special players who can break ankles, and drop jaws. Dove is a physical change of pace back, and Nelson is an explosive athlete that will eventually turn into a versatile option who will be a nice all-purpose back.

Junior transfer Orion Prescott has seen a number of carries on the scout team, and third team over the past calendar year, and will be factor in divvying up carries behind Jones.

Wadley could become a C-USA household name by the seasons end, and looks to be a prime candidate for a main back up role.

In UTEP's run game, you figure there will be a 10-15 carry window behind Jones, but fullback Darrin Laufasa will get/needs his touches, therefore these freshman would be asked to maximize their production with a limited amount of touches which figures to be tough for any true freshman.

Can this deep group of future stars, and studs produce in their first year as a unit?

With the way the UTEP offensive line is built and performed in the fall, the answer could be “hell yeah man,” but time will tell if the recruiting prowess at running back pays off early.

Fullback projected depth chart

  • Darrin Laufasa, 6'1, 250 lbs, Senior
  • 2015 stats: 101 carries, 378 yards, 1 TD, 16 receptions, 91 yards
  • Kristopher Christian, 5'11, 240 lbs, Sophomore
  • David Jackson, 5'10, 225 lbs, Junior

It seems like yesterday Darrin Laufasa and Aaron Jones were freshman stars in the Miner backfield, now the senior leader is looking to end his career with a bang.

Laufasa literally owns NMSU, and could become a more consistent pass catching option in Brent Pease's offense, and with Hughes down look for Laufasa to dip deep into that 10-15 carry window.

Right now I would say Laufasa is the Miners true backup tailback behind Aaron Jones, and has earned the right for needing the ball in his hands in certain situations.

His backups, Christian and Jackson have not seen meaningful playing time in their careers as of yet, but that could change this season with the need for some depth behind Laufasa, particularly if he's needed more at tailback.

I'm sure Kevin Dove will also see some snaps as a blocker, giving UTEP versatility and depth in one of toughest positions in the entire sport.

2016 Stat Projection

  • Aaron Jones: 220 carries, 1,250. 11 TDS, 27 receptions, 311 yards 3 TD's
  • Quadraiz Wadley, 114 carries, 450 yards, 5 TDs
  • Darrin Laufasa: 105 carries 390 yards, 2 TDs. 19 receptions, 150 yards