There are a lot of talented backfields in the B1G heading into the season. When it comes to experience, production and depth, though, there many not be a better group of running backs than the one in Minnesota.
An overwhelming amount of talent and experience returns for the Gophers at the running back position in 2019. Mohamed Ibrahim, Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks are all back — all of which have led Minnesota in rushing yardage at one point in there careers. Sophomore Bryce Williams is also coming off a solid season, as well.
Four quality ball carriers will battle for snaps this season, providing P.J. Fleck with several options. While some might call the room in Minneapolis a little crowded, Smith thinks it’s an excellent problem for the program to be facing.
“I know that is a great problem to have,” Smith said of the running back situation. “You can never have too many running backs. You can never have too much depth. With all the experience coming back, it’s exciting.”
Smith played in just two games in 2018 before suffering a season-ending injury. That paved the way for Ibrahim and Williams to become contributors early in their careers. They didn’t disappoint.
Ibrahim led the Gophers with 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns. Williams backed that up with 502 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Those strong ground performances helped Minnesota finish the season with a 7-6 mark.
Brooks also suffered a season-ending injury last fall, marking the second-straight year the multi-purpose back was sidelined. With all four healthy, the Gophers have the opportunity to produce one of the most potent rushing attacks in the B1G.
There is only one football to go around, so, depending on how the season goes, none of the four may see as many touches as they have in the past. But the flexibility and depth in the backfield should allow Minnesota to have fresh legs on the field at all times, which will be a huge advantage later in the season.
So many running backs on one team could be an issue for a lot of programs. It seems Smith and his teammates are taking the right approach, though.
It could mean big things for the Gophers in 2019.