2012 football position by position: running backs
As we’re just weeks away from the start of the football season, it’s time to take a detailed position-by-position look at the 2012 EMU football team. This is our time to refresh our memory about returning players, and learn a little about the new faces.
In 2011, EMU had the nation’s #14 rushing offense, pounding away for more than 218 yards per game, on a very balanced attack led by quarterback Alex Gillett, who carried for 736 yards (#94 nationally). Three running backs added more than 500 yards each behind an offensive line that was stellar at run-blocking. We’ll talk about the o-line tomorrow, but for now, let’s discuss the ball carriers.
Lost: Dominique White.
Dominique White had an amazing story. White’s father died when he was seven, and he was raised by his mother, Clara Ellington, who also fostered and later adopted Blaine and Jaishon Ellington before her death from breast cancer in 2005. A 2008 graduate of St. Mary’s Preperatory in Orchard Lake, White had not played organized football since his senior season in 2007. After a year out of school, White enrolled at EMU in 2009, and joined the football team as a walk-on in 201o, playing just a few minutes here and there on special teams. Ron English later recalled, “I always liked him, I thought he had ability, he just needed to get in shape”. In early 2011, White became Blaine and Jaishon’s legal guardian. Last fall, still a walk-on, White had what can only be described as a break-through season, piling up 596 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns in 10 games as the third-string running back. Most fans figured that not only would he be back in the rotation in 2012, but that he’d get a football scholarship for his senior year.
Somewhere along the line, that didn’t happen. There’s a lot of speculation out there suggesting that an athletic scholarship might have interfered with any state or federal aid White receives as his brothers’ guardian (or as someone who was orphaned as a minor), or that with so much depth at the position, the coaching staff didn’t want to tie up another scholarship at running back, particularly if they thought White might be back as a walk-on. However it happened, in late April, White posted a highlight video on YouTube indicating that he wanted to transfer for his senior season. Whether or where he’s transferred, I’ve not discovered, but the long and the short of it is that he’s not listed on the EMU roster for 2012. Where ever Dominique White ends up, we enjoyed watching him play last year and wish him all the best.
Presumptive starters: Javonti Greene, junior; Dominique Sherrer, senior.
If I had to guess, I’d put Greene ahead of Sherrer — Greene started five games in 2011 to Sherrer’s three, though Sherrer was out with an injury for much of the middle of the season. Greene finished with 667 yards at 4.7 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns, while Sherrer tallied 572 yards at 6.1 yards per carry but only reached the end zone twice. I’m betting we’ll see both of them get the ball plenty of times.
Plus there’s Alex Gillett.
Depth: Tyler Allen, sophomore; Juwan Lewis, freshman; Ryan Brumfield, sophomore; Joe Fleming, junior; Jeremy Willison, freshman, Bronson Hill, sophomore; Tim Harrison, freshman.
No doubt about it, Ron English has an awful lot of young talent waiting in the wings at running back, and if the past two years are any guide, at least one or two of the youngsters will get a chance to shine this year. In 2010, Javonti Greene was probably third or fourth on the depth chart, but he got double-digit carries at Ohio State and at Vanderbilt before he broke loose and ran all over the Virginia Cavaliers (8 carries for 153 yards — an average of nearly 20 yards per carry! — and two touchdowns), putting him into rotation with Sherrer as starters in 2011. A third of the way into 2011, Sherrer and Greene were both hurt, and Dominique White, a walk-on, got his chance, and he came up big with 164 yards against Akron and 161 at Central Michigan. There’s no way to know for sure which younger player might have a breakthrough season. Ryan Brumfield and Tyler Allen seemed to be next in the rotation last year, while Juwan Lewis comes in as a highly touted (for EMU) recruit (three stars from both Rivals and Scout).
Read what Hustle Belt has to say about all the MAC running backs, where they rate EMU 3/13, behind Buffalo and Bowling Green. EMU might not have the conference’s best running back, but I don’t think any team is deeper than the Eagles.