BYU's running game just lost two of the best in program history in Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams. While the Cougars are going to have a hard time completely replacing these two, there's plenty of running backs looking to fill the void.
Here's a breakdown of BYU's running backs:
Jamaal Williams: Williams is BYU's all-time leader in career rushing yards with 3,901. Despite missing three games last season, he still managed to rush for 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams just signed with the Green Bay Packers.
Projected depth chart
Halfbacks: Squally Canada, KJ Hall, Ula Tolutau, Kavika Fonua, Riley Burt, Trey Dye
Fullbacks: Brayden El-Bakri, Creed Richardson
Replacing the all-time leader in rushing yards is no small task, but BYU has a variety of running backs looking to fill the void.
Canada is the most likely running back to break out this season. The Washington State transfer rushed for 315 yards on 74 carries in 2016, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Those expecting Canada to make up for the loss of Williams by himself will probably be disappointed. BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer made it clear that BYU's running game won't depend on just one player:
"I wouldn’t say there’s one guy. All along we’ve said it’s running back by committee,” Detmer told our own Jeff Call. "It will stay that way. In fall camp if somebody steps up and you can’t keep them out because you need them more, that guy will be the guy. They are all doing great and have made big improvements."
Hall is another player to watch as he impressed at times last season. He is a former walk-on that had some solid games toward the end of the year as he rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown against UMass. While his biggest days were against some of BYU's worst opponents, he showed enough speed and promise to be a legitimate threat this fall.
Tolutau is the largest running back on the roster at 255 pounds and could be great for BYU's power running game. The former Wisconsin commit decided to come to BYU after serving an LDS mission in Bakersfield, California.
Fonua is a new face in the offensive backfield as he was a linebacker last season. We'll see how he adapts to his new position this fall.
Others to watch include Burt, who redshirted last season after rushing for 86 yards his freshman year. He's one of the speedsters of the group. He clocked a 10.95-second 100-yard dash back in 2014.
Dye also took a redshirt last season. The former wide receiver could also make an impact this fall.
While many will focus on the battle to replace Williams, don't sleep on the fullback position. Remember who was the first BYU player to score a touchdown last season? No, it wasn't Taysom Hill or Williams.
It was fullback El-Bakri.
Yes, El-Bakri had only two carries last season, but he will be an invaluable lead blocker for whoever gets the ball. Plus, El-Bakri showed that he can catch the ball from out of the backfield as he had four catches for 69 yards against Southern Utah and a catch for 19 yards against Toledo.
Richardson saw limited action last season and did not record a stat, but he's another one to watch as a blocking fullback.
Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.