published Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Running back to be a by-committee position at UTC in 2011

  • photo
    Chris Awuah runs the ball at UTC football practice at Scrappy Moore Field.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

J.J. Jackson is the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's top returning rusher from last season. He amassed 223 yards on 63 carries.

The Mocs had a by-committee ground attack last season -- Erroll Wynn led with 653 yards and Keon Williams was second with 500 -- and it appears they will do the same this year.

With Wynn's career over and Williams suspended for the season, the Mocs are relying on Jackson, Chris Awuah and a group of newcomers to move the ball on the ground.

"The backs are looking pretty good," running backs coach Jamaal Fobbs said. "We've just got to continue to work and rep some things over and over again. I'm pretty pleased with the young guys. They're really, really smart and they're picking up the offense real good."

Awuah led UTC in rushing as a true freshman in 2009 with 459 yards but got lost in the shuffle behind Wynn, Williams and Jackson last season. He carried the ball only 26 times for 113 yards.

Awuah entered the preseason at the top of the depth chart after a very good spring, but offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said Monday that none of the backs had separated themselves much thus far.

One newcomer who's working his way into the conversation is Desmond Walker, who walked on at UTC last fall after redshirting in 2009 at Alabama A&M. Walker also had a good spring and has been effective so far in preseason camp.

"I'm hungry and trying to go out and do what I need to do to get on the field," he said.

Fobbs said the way Walker is playing, "we don't have any choice but to continue to think about [using him]."

Freshman running backs Kendrix Huitt and Marquis Green have had a lot of carries and their share of good moments. They're both smaller runners -- 5-foot-9 or smaller, like Awuah and Jackson -- but possess good quickness.

One freshman who's sure to play a lot this season, and could start in the opener at Nebraska, is fullback Taharin Tyson. Fullback has been a fairly anonymous position the past couple of seasons for UTC, but that could change with Tyson, who has the moves to be a productive runner.

"We're starting to treat Taharin like a vet," head coach Russ Huesman said. "Taharin's got to start treating himself like a vet, too. He's got to know that he's not a freshman. He's had all summer with us and he can't be a rookie, he can't be a freshman."

Extra points

The Mocs had their second practice in full pads Tuesday and spent a brief period scrimmaging. ... Freshman tight end Jarrod Coleman suffered a shoulder injury early in Monday's practice and will be out a couple of weeks. ... The College Sporting News released its preseason All-America teams Monday, and UTC wideout Joel Bradford was named to the second team.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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