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FIU 2018 Outlook: Running Back - Alex Gardner is gone, but the Panthers are in good shape.

All-time leading rusher Alex Gardner moves on, but the deepest position on the team is arguably running back.

Old Dominion v Florida International
Junior Shawndarrius Phillips is among of stable of backs that FIU will call on to carry the load in 2018.
Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Previously: Quarterback

In the next installment of our FIU Fall camp preview, we take a look at the running backs. Head coach Butch Davis said coming out of the spring game that this could arguably be the position where the Panthers have the most depth.

Returnees: Shawndarrius Phillips (Jr.)- 5-11, 225, 445 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

Napoleon Maxwell (R-Sr.)- 6-0, 215, 425 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

D’Vonte Price (Soph)- 6-2, 205, 131 yards rushing.

Anthony Jones (Sr.)- 5-11, 220, missed all of 2017, 562 yards and four touchdowns in 2016.

Newcomers: DeMarcus Townsend (Fr.)- 5-10, 190, three-star recruit.

Shaun Peterson Jr. (Fr.)- 6-3, 210, three-star recruit

Heading into Fall: The Panthers had three backs rush for over 400 yards in 2017, which helped them land among the top third of C-USA in team rushing yards. Expect much of the same in 2018.

Butch Davis has a history of using multiple backs that dates back to his Miami days. FIU fans should expect Maxwell, Phillips, Jones and Price to all see significant playing time.

Phillips at 225 pounds is the bruiser of the group, while Maxwell broke the longest run of the season by a Florida International running back.

Massachusetts v Florida International
Napoleon Maxwell will help a running back by committee attack for FIU in 2018.
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Price may be the most versatile of the group and could be a factor in the passing game as well. The X-factor of the group is undoubtedly Jones.

He missed virtually all of last season. However, when healthy he ran for almost 600 yards and provided value in the kick return game.

If he’s fully healthy and all signs out of Spring are that he is, he will be a valued weapon for the FIU offense.

A pair of talented true freshmen have a chance to see time as well.

DeMarcus Townsend was sought after by multiple power five schools until suffering a torn ACL in high school. He could be the fastest man in the running back room, clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard-dash.

Shaun Peterson Jr. was highly recruited as a linebacker by likes of Michigan, Miami and USF, but chose FIU after being recruited as a running back by Davis.

Final Thought: While it’s unknown who will be taking the snaps from center, whichever quarterback wins the job will have a litany of backs to hand the ball to. In the early part of the season as FIU looks to replace Alex McGough and Thomas Owens, all of these backs will play a role in steadying the offense.

The Panthers will be best served using a running back rotation, as all of these players are talented enough to make a significant impact this season.

Position Grade: A-. The only reason the group isn’t a solid A is because none of these backs have been a starter. With that being said, this may be the deepest group of backs Davis has seen his late 90’s Hurricane teams.