As if replacing All-American running back Johnathan Franklin was not enough, the Bruins faced a rash of injuries in the backfield last season.
By season's end, the team's best ball-carrier was a linebacker, the leading overall rusher was quarterback Brett Hundley and running backs coach Steve Broussard was dismissed prior to the Sun Bowl.
Former USC assistant Kennedy Polamalu is the new positions coach and is looking for someone to take over the role linebacker Myles Jack was filling at season's end.
"Yeah, we definitely need to have the leading rusher be a running back," Jordon James told Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times.
The Bruins are not lacking for options in the backfield, though there is not yet a clear No. 1.
James was the heir apparent to Franklin and broke off 100-plus yards in his first three starts but was slowed by an ankle injury.
Paul Perkins was the most productive of the Bruins running back with 573 rushing yards, but he lacked consistency. Perkins is best suited as a change-of-pace back and receiving threat.
Redshirt freshman Craig Lee has turned some heads, including that of Hundley. Hundley offered high praise of Lee to the Los Angeles Daily News:
He’s still developing as a young running back, but he has such an upside to him. Once he gets it, and understands the game and gets the concepts and everything that we’re running, he’s going to be lights out.