Position preview: Taking a look at the running back unit ahead of the season opener

As the season approaches, Lane Kiffin could be looking towards BJ Emmons and James Charles to lead a deep backfield.


Former Alabama running back BJ Emmons will get great opportunity with the Owls after the departure of Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte Jr. Photo by: Alex Liscio

Trey Avant, Contributing Writer

As the season opener for the Owls is only four days away, the University Press will evaluate each position on the roster — Monday was the analysis of the quarterbacks; today it’s a look at the running backs.


On the surface, the Owls backfield looks to take a step back this season due to the loss of its dynamic star RB Devin Singletary, but what they lack in star power they make up for in superior depth. 


None of the running backs on the team project as an every-down, bellcow and it looks like head coach Lane Kiffin is going to go with a running back by committee. The frontrunner for the starting job is former Alabama running back BJ Emmons, who once played for Kiffin while he was the offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide.


Emmons is a big bruiser of a running back who was also a former four-star recruit coming out of high school. He has consistently impressed coaches this offseason and has had arguably the best camp out of all the backs, but he is relatively inexperienced at the college level, seeing as he only played in six games for Alabama recording just 35 carries for 173 yards in 2016. He also sat out last season due to academic ineligibility. 


James Charles is another name to watch as a potential lead ball carrier for the Owls. The redshirt junior has been propelled into the spotlight as he is no longer buried behind Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte Jr. 


Charles is an explosive, do-it-all running back who split first-team carries with BJ Emmons throughout the spring and his familiarity with the offense could give him the edge in the position battle.


Redshirt sophomore Daniel LeConte and True Freshman Larry McCammon III are sleeper picks for touches in this crowded backfield. LeConte dazzled coaches this spring and could demand carries early, while McCammon has the potential to make Conference USA’s All-Freshman team if given enough playing time.


Other names worth mentioning are versatile junior Tyrek Tisdale who has struggled with injuries in the past and speedy redshirt freshman Malcolm Davidson who was relegated mostly to special teams last season. Finally, there’s true freshman Kelvin Dean Jr. who, along with Larry McCammon, can be FAU’s next high-powered RB duo for the next few years.


The running back unit is the deepest unit on the team and coach Kiffin will need BJ Emmons and company to perform at their very best to carry this offense and its lackluster passing attack.


Tomorrow, the University Press looks at the wide receivers and tight ends and the breakout season that Harrison Bryant could experience.


Trey Avant is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @TreyAvant3.