Led by All-American and soon-to-be NFL draftee Tevin Coleman, IU’s running backs racked up 3,163 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.
The Hoosiers will no doubt miss Coleman’s production. Replacing that type of production is no easy task for one player, especially considering that IU’s returning running backs have accounted for just 118 career yards for the Hoosiers.
But the running backs wants an encore. And together, running backs Coach Deland McCullough thinks they’ve got one in store.
“We’ve got a group of guys that we think, between our top two, three guys, we’ll be able to put up similar numbers to what we put up last year,” McCullough said. “I’m convinced of that.”
Rising sophomore rusher Devine Redding echoed McCullough’s claim. He mentioned IU’s running backs’ room has a self-created standard of performance.
They pride themselves in running hard and holding onto the ball. The players say they treat one another like brothers, using the competition to push each other.
The departure of Coleman and graduated senior D’Angelo Roberts doesn’t change that, Redding said.
“I really don’t see a lot of differences,” Redding said. “Similarities, I see a lot of them. We keep the standard. We run the ball hard, ball security and everything.”
IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said the standard comes from ?McCullough.
Johns said he likes the effort he’s seen out of the running backs thus far this spring.
There’s going to be new faces taking the majority of the reps next season, and IU seems comfortable using anyone on the depth chart.
“Those guys bring it every day,” Johns said. “There’s a lot of pride in that room. Each one of them thinks they’re going to be ‘the guy’ and that’s a beautiful thing when you have that.”
UAB transfer Jordan Howard is one of the rushers expected to be in the mix next season, but he suffered a setback, hyperextending his elbow in practice.
IU Coach Kevin Wilson said Howard is likely to miss the rest of the spring, which will set him back.
While Howard was healthy, he was impressing his teammates and coaches.
Redding said Howard’s got a skillset unlike any that he’s seen before, particularly his speed.
“The guy’s faster than what I thought,” McCullough said. “When I was timing him a couple weeks ago, I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
McCullough said as soon as Coleman left, Redding took it upon himself to be a leader in the locker room.
“You lost some great guys who provided some leadership and it was great that Devine stepped up immediately,” McCullough said. “You got a great group in there, guys who want to be great. We’re gonna make sure we can get to that level for sure.”
Together, the group is building confidence and is only looking to build on the work the running backs did last season.
“We’ve just got to bring our best to the table,” Redding said. “We’ve got to just continue to grow, continue to pound the rock, continue to follow our RB standards. You know, just be upheld to what we accomplished and just keep going.”