While much of Utah State's offense is a question mark, there are so many good running backs that this one position has lent players to other positions, will probably redshirt promising freshman Melvin Blue, has lost one of last year's starters (James Dye) to football apathy - and still is four-deep with experienced running backs, three of them former starters.
People ask coach Charlie Weatherbie - only half-jokingly - if he'll scrap his old offense and go wishbone. No.But, "When we do run," says RB Abu Wilson, "we will have a fresh running back every time because we have so much depth."
"It's a real fight," admits Aggie offensive coordinator Jim Zorn. He can choose from preseason All-Big West first-teamer Profail Grier; USU freshman record-holder Wilson, back for his sophomore season after sitting out '93 as an injury redshirt; Tai Gordon, the starter two years ago as a freshman; and senior Kendrick Huey, instrumental in the win at New Mexico State (18 carries, 71 yards) that gave the Aggies the Big West co-title and Las Vegas Bowl bid.
With that depth, Dye (86 carries, 468 yards) was moved to H-back, but he's tired of football and didn't return following summer vacation.
Blue rushed for nearly 1,400 yards his last two years of high school in Carson, Calif.
Grier is No. 1 after his snowballing first season ('93, when he was a Prop. 48 sophomore), 190 carries for 997 yards and 10 TDs. "One thing I noticed in watching the videos this summer," says Zorn, "is how much Grier improved. He got confidence and got very comfortable with things that happened to him during the season. He knows he's good."
Wilson was the incumbent last August after a freshman season ('92) of 795 yards, 13th-best in Aggie history and best-ever by a freshman despite missing the first three games with his first knee injury. He was felled almost exactly a year ago by a severe knee injury and is still trying to regain game shape. "I'm definitely hungry for competition," says Wilson. "Because of the extremity of the injury, I've got to take it a little easy, but I will be ready by Sept. 3 (vs. Utah)."
"He is really deserved of a great training camp and good season," says Zorn.
"No question they are both special players," Zorn adds, noting that Grier, "a darter," is also a punishing runner despite 5-foot-8, 185-pound size; and Wilson, 6-0/191, is an accelerator who's learning lateral moves, too.
"Gordon can spot those guys," says Zorn. He adds that 6-1/225 Blue "is a different type of runner, more physical," and that "Huey ran hard for us last year."