Last week, Mike Miller of Hoosier Sports Report posted the Indiana Football two-deep that was in the 2018 media guide. Take their position break down very lightly, fall practices haven’t even started so those will change. This running back room is manned by a great coach in Mike Hart and a couple backs that have some experience under their belt. Outside of those people, the room is filled with young backs that have serious potential, and under the new redshirt rules, could see some action this year while still receiving a redshirt. I will break down who I see starting, who I see getting consistent reps, and who I see getting playing time while saving the redshirt.
Indiana Media Guide two-deep: Morgan Ellison or Cole Gest, Mike Majette
Starter: Morgan Ellison
- After a successful freshman campaign and an off-season to continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger, look for Ellison to be the back that IU needs to display a balanced run attack. Last year Ellison ran for 704 yards on 143 attempts (4.9 YPC). Those are pretty good numbers as a freshman, especially considering the lackluster offensive line production that the Hoosiers displayed. The team as a whole ran for less than 4.0 YPC, so Ellison was the lone bright spot in the Hoosiers run game last year.
Getting Reps: Ricky Brookins & Cole Gest
- Brookins has displayed the ability to do both, run and catch. Last season he caught 19 passes for 124 yards and ran for 88 yards on 11 carries. Not a ton of action for the now-redshirt senior, but he was a solid pass protector that I see having a similar role with a slightly increased output in both the air and the ground.
- Gest is one of the hardest downhill runners I have seen in a while. Sometimes this hurts him though as he gets met with a downhill charging backer or safety and he proceeds to fumble. If Gest, who has been shown on social media running at speeds higher than the other backs, can learn to protect the ball better, and be an asset in the passing game, I see him being a productive back for the Hoosiers.
Play in four games then Redshirt: Ronnie Walker Jr. & Stevie Scott
- Both these freshmen have will most likely see four games of action this year and then get hit with a redshirt. I could see Ronnie potentially joining a package as a receiving back and on early downs for outside runs as he is quicker than some of the other backs. Stevie Scott, on the other hand, could be seen coming in on goal-line or short down plays. 6-2 233 pounds as a freshman is very promising and if he continues to get faster, more agile, and even stronger, he could be a beast down the road in his career post-redshirt.
Darkhorse: Kristian Pechac
- Pechac is now a walk-on after de-committing from the Hoosiers in June of 2017. Coming in as a three-star recruit from Bloomington South high school, I am very excited to see what he will bring to the table. After de-committing from IU in June, he went on and suffered an injury during his senior season. Now, his frame looks like something near a freak-of-nature. Attached is a picture that Coach Allen tweeted after hosting the running backs at his house for a pool party. Pechac is the young man in the purple jersey in the front row. So yeah, he looks like he could be a starting linebacker for a top five team with that visible strength. I am excited to see if he sees the field or is simply redshirted.
At the end of the day, look for Ellison to be the workhorse with a couple of the other backs sprinkled in here and there for pass plays or specific packages. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention Majette. I am not a fan of his play-style and he has been plagued by injuries in his career. I hope he surprises me, but I see a lack of explosion and shiftiness when compared to the other backs. Nobody has the in-game experience quite like Ellison and I expect him to have another good year, hopefully even better behind a line returning all five starters.