In the 2008 season, Rutgers had four running backs who rushed for a combined 1664 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Besides Mason Robinson—who was moved to wide receiver—the other three running backs return, each eager to win the starting role all to himself.
Redshirt sophomores Jourdan Brooks and Joe Martinek are the leading candidates for the starting running back role.
For a while, Jourdan Brooks was the ESPN favorite—famous for getting an entire piece of his dreadlocks pulled out by Louisville's Travis Norton, who tackled Brooks by his hair. Brooks was prevented from having a 90 plus-yard touchdown run.
It took Ray Rice three seasons to get a 90-yard touchdown run.
Brooks shouldn't be famous for just being pulled for losing his hair. A bruising back with surprising speed, the 6'1", 230-pound Brooks is a bigger, faster, and more powerful version of Ray Rice.
As a freshman, Brooks led the Knights in touchdowns last season with six. He had 100 carries for 516 yards and averaged roughly 5.2 yards per carry.
Brooks is almost a guaranteed first down if you use him on third and short situations. He also has surprising speed that people don't usually mention. Although he is not as fast as his fellow running backs Joe Martinek and Kordell Young, he has enough speed to break long runs.
This wasn't only evident in the almost 90-yard touchdown run when Brooks was pulled down by his hair. One time during training camp, while practicing against the first-team offense, Brooks took a handoff from Mike Teel, lost a shoe, and still ran for a 60-yard touchdown with only one shoe on.
He could be used in the exact same way Ray Rice was and could definitely be called upon to get 25 carries a game if needed. Based on his YPC average, if he received 30 carries a game like Ray Rice did, he would be an 1800 plus-yard rusher.
Jourdan Brooks would be getting the bulk of the carries if Joe Martinek wasn't there to say otherwise. Martinek, also a redshirt sophomore, came into Rutgers as New Jersey's all-time leader in rushing yards.
At 6'1", 215-pounds he is a little smaller than Brooks, but he's faster and more athletic. He also still can run with power.
On 76 carries he ran for 404 yards averaging 5.3 yards a carry. If he got 30 carries a game like Rice did, he would be 1900 plus-yard rusher.
This spring, Martinek got to play for most of the practices as the only first-team running back when Brooks and Young had spring practice-ending injuries early on.
Martinek is also a jack-of-all-trades player. Besides his running back duties, Joe ran the "Wildknight formation," which is Rutgers' version of the Wildcat formation.
In Rutgers' first ever play in this formation, Martinek took the handoff and scampered 45 yards into the end zone untouched.
He also plays on special teams covering kicks.
The Knights also have redshirt junior Kordell Young returning. The 5'9", 190-pound Young lead the Scarlet Knights in rushing yards last season with 554 yards, while averaging 3.9 yards a carry.
He is extremely fast and agile but runs with little power and was stopped short at the line of scrimmage often last year. Having power is a must in Rutgers' offense, and Young isn't powerful enough to be the primary feature back.
Young got injured often, which forced him to miss many games over the last two seasons. He also has been injured for almost the entire spring and summer training camps and will most likely not be ready to play come the season opener against Cincinnati.
He is a great open field runner, which is something he has had little chance to do. When he returns from his current injury, he will be a great change of pace running back and kick returner, very much like Leon Washington and Darren Sproles.
Freshman DeAntwan Williams drew comparisons to Rutgers' great Ray Rice from scouts and coaches.
At 5'8", 195-pounds he is around the same size as Rice and possesses Rice's uncanny power for such a small player.
He is faster than Rice was and can be compared to a fellow Williams with the same number—Deangelo Williams, No. 34 on the Carolina Panthers.
Since he won't be needed for this year, Williams will most likely be redshirted. But look for him to light up the college football scoreboards in future seasons.
Senior fullback Jack Corcoran returns to block the way for the Big East's top rushing unit. He is a three-year starter and has improved his run blocking each year. In 2008, Corcoran had 19 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
His season was capped by a six-catch, 62-yard performance. In one play, he made a spectacular one-handed catch with help from his helmet—reminiscent of David Tyree’s catch in Super Bowl XLII.
Greg Schiano says he wants just one feature back, and that Martinek and Brooks will both get 25 carries a game, although, that is highly unlikely. Not using one of these talented players would be a huge waste of a scholarship.
Both Brooks and Martinek should get 15 carries a game, which would take a lot of pressure off Rutgers' new quarterback.
Here's the link for the Jourdan Brooks being tackled by his hair video.
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