With only 18 days until kickoff, we need to keep the position previews moving!
As always, feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this group and be sure to check out the quarterback preview and Underdog Dynasty in the coming days for more position previews!
Next up is the running backs who have to replace Larry Rose III.
Larry Rose III is the only running back departing this season. He was the cornerstone of the offense for the past four years and leaves as the #2 career rusher in NMSU history.
Larry Rose was a three phase back, able to rush and receive out of the backfield as well as field punts. Last season, Rose was the leading rusher, totaling 949 yards on 187 carries (5.1 ypc) and 10 touchdowns; the second leading receiver with 522 yards on 55 receptions (9.5 ypr) and two touchdowns; and was the leading punt returner but only had 71 yards on 10 attempts.
The main returnee and expected starter is junior Jason Huntley. Huntley played quite a bit last season rushing 70 times for 420 yards and one touchdown. He also returned kickoffs, totaling 533 yards and two touchdowns on 18 returns (29.6 avg).
The only other returning back with experience is senior Christian Gibson who had four carries for one yard last season.
To address the depth concern, Coach Martin moved senior WR Royce Caldwell to running back after he sat out last season. He is one of the fastest players on the team and should help buffer the learning curve for the younger guys.
The Aggies also have sophomore Eli Anderson and freshman Josh Foley, Naveon Mitchell and Alex Escobar on the roster.
Upgrade or Downgrade
Larry Rose III was a do it all back and one of the main leaders on the team. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to completely fill his shoes.
For that reason, I think this unit is slightly less talented and will experience some growing pains this season. However, Huntley is a very fast runner and can make things happen with his feet.
Production from this unit will be down as they gain experience but I think Huntley and Caldwell will do enough to keep the rushing numbers from falling too far.