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2020 USF Football Spring Practice Preview: Running Backs

After nosediving in production last season, a new-look running back room will take the field for USF this spring.

Memphis v South Florida Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Spring practice begins next week so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.

Position Coach: Pat White (First season at USF)

Key Losses: Jordan Cronkrite (136 carries, 687 yards, 5.1 ypc, four touchdowns); Trevon Sands (49 carries, 218 yards, 4.2 ypc, two touchdowns)

Returners: Kelley Joiner Jr. (71 carries, 364 yards, 5.1 ypc); Johnny Ford (19 carries, 103 yards, two touchdowns)

The 2019 season was an unmitigated disaster for the USF football program and with of an offense plagued by injury and poor line play, arguably no group suffered more than the running backs.

Coming off a 2018 campaign that saw Jordan Cronkrite eclipse 1,000 yards and Johnny Ford make a name for himself as a true freshman, the Bulls’ ground game took a considerable dive last fall. They collectively dropped from 2,517 yards on 4.9 ypc in 2018 to 1,936 yards on 4.4 ypc in 2019 along with total number of rushing touchdowns dropping from 26 to 15.

Once thought of as a potential mid-round NFL Draft pick, Cronk’s stock plummeted during his senior year as he tried bearing the load for an offense that consistently sputtered behind one of the worst offensive lines in school history. Both his and fellow senior Trevon Sands’ seasons were eventually cut short as they sat out the final two games while nursing injuries.

In the midst of the chaos, sophomore Kelley Joiner Jr. was able to get his first taste of collegiate reps last fall and figures to be a threat for the starting job this spring. Also in the fold is the aforementioned Ford, who moved to the slot last year but was suspended for a good bulk of the campaign. Listed back at running back on the team website, the speedster from Miami is looking to play a major role in whatever Jeff Scott and Charlie Weis Jr. as cooking up this spring.

There’s also the x-factor of Oregon running back transfer Darrian Felix, who enrolled at USF by way of the portal in January. The Fort Myers product was fourth on the depth chart for the Pac-12 Champion Ducks last season in Eugene but still manage to carve out 197 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns.

Rounding out the running back depth chart for the Bulls this spring are senior Odunayo Seriki and redshirt freshman Josh Berry, who is coming back from a torn ACL.

Just like everything with this program in year one under Scott, the running back room is a blank canvass. It will certainly be interesting to see how Scott and White utilizes their ground game weapons during the spring.