CHARLESTON, S.C. – Throughout fall camp, we'll provide positional previews of Charleston Southern's 2018 team. Today, we take a look at the running backs.
Lost: Elijah Henry, BJ Daniels-Sanders, Noah Shuler
Three Things to Watch
Bucs hopeful 2017 reps pay off in 2018
CSU entered 2017 looking to replace the production of three of the program's top-six all-time leading rushers. The Bucs averaged 193 rushing yards per game to finish 26th in that department nationally, but lacked the type of consistent production Mike Holloway, Darius Hammond and Ben Robinson provided the two years prior.
Noah Shuler, who finished his eligibility and will serve as a student assistant coach this year, led the team with 583 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Ronnie Harris, Terrence Wilson, Chanin Hamilton and Adam Allen also gained experience that running backs coach Malcolm Dixon believes will pay dividends this fall.
"Being able to go through a whole year and get that game experience – those live reps – was huge," Dixon said. "It was their first time playing significant reps and I think that was invaluable for all of them."
Wilson looking to pair consistency with big-play ability
Terrence Wilson averaged a team-best six yards per carry last season. He opened eyes and earned Big South Freshman of the Week honors with a 106-yard performance, on just two carries, in CSU's blowout of Mississippi Valley State. Wilson took both of his touches into the end zone with long scoring runs of 62 and 44 yards. The Batesburg-Leesville High School product came to CSU as the South Carolina 2-A Player of the Year, and Dixon see bright things ahead for the speedster.
"His biggest thing is just getting to that place of consistency," Dixon said. "He has big-play capability, really good feet, good balance and is just a natural runner but you've gotta know the schemes inside and out. As he grows with that, he's got a lot of potential to show more of his talent."
The London Johnson effect
London Johnson's speed and elusiveness make him an ideal quarterback for CSU's spread option offense. Johnson was the Bucs' third-leading rusher last season, tallying 366 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. The desire of the defense to force the ball out of Johnson's hands can only benefit CSU's running backs.
"It helps a lot having a guy with his skillset because guys gotta make a decision – who do they want to carry the ball?" Dixon said. "The ability he has to draw in defenses and then get it to our backs out in space gives us an opportunity to make plays inside and outside."
Player Spotlight – Ronnie Harris
4 – Number of 200-yard rushing games for CSU last season. The Bucs were 3-1 in those contests. CSU ranked top-20 nationally in rushing offense every year from 2013-16, highlighted by a sixth-place finish in 2016.
7 – CSU returns seven of its top nine rushers from last year.
4 – Geoffrey Wall. The junior slot receiver has tremendous potential as a playmaker in the open field and could be an important part of the pitch phase in CSU's offense.
CSU is in its second full week of camp and holds its tenth practice Tuesday at 2:55 p.m.