Battle of the backs: Three’s a crowd?
Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 17:03
Running back Latavius Murray is in the middle of a different kind of spring practice season.
This season, the redshirt junior is heading in to the spring season at the top of the depth chart.
"It's the first spring I've been just comfortable," Murray said. "I just take that attitude and go out there and am just trying to get better and repeat the end of my season that I had last year."
On New Years Eve's Liberty Bowl victory, Murray was the game's MVP and Outstanding Offensive Player. He put the Knights ahead with a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Now, Murray is at the top of the depth chart, but he'll have competition throughout the spring from a handful of talented backs.
It's a three-man race for the Knights' starting running back job this spring, with Murray in the front and Ronnie Weaver and Brynn Harvey right behind.
"Either way you have to go out there and compete with a little bulls eye on your back from being the starter," Murray said. "You know guys are going to be working really hard to try to take your spot."
Weaver, a redshirt senior, rushed for 11 touchdowns last season. The Knights also welcome back redshirt junior Harvey, who received a medical redshirt last season.
"I just got in there like nothing had even happened," Harvey said. "I just got in there and ran the ball. I was a little hesitant sometimes, but the more I run, the more I get used to it."
Harvey injured his knee last March and sat out for the season after knee surgery. In 2009, Harvey scored 14 touchdowns and picked up 1,109 yards.
"I think it's a big spring for Brynn, he needs to come back and see where he's at," said head coach George O'Leary. "Is he how he left, or does he still have a lot of work? He missed a full year of football."
The Knights are faced with a very difficult dilemma that most teams would die to be in — having three No. 1-quality running backs but only one starting spot.
"Brynn is working very hard; I know he wants a starting spot again, so like I said I've just got to keep going out there and working hard and I've got to make it hard for him," Murray said. "I'm the guy to lose the spot, so I just take the attitude of just going out there and working hard."
The group brings a number of different assets to position. Weaver, the oldest group, brings the experience. Murray says he brings the ability to hit the open gaps hard and doesn't try to go outside of his game. Harvey adds a burst of speed to the unit.
"We've got a lot of talents in different areas that we can combine and try to make our running attack one of a kind," Weaver said. "Bringing Brynn back again adding him to the mix again is just going to be great to see how the chemistry goes."
The group isn't concerned at this point in the spring with carries. They're trying to improve the unit that has become a staple of UCF's offense.
"The running game has to be a staple of our offense, so we're coming out and working hard," Weaver said. "We're trying to understand the play books and gain a slight edge on other teams coming into the fall."