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46 Days Until Kansas Football: Previewing the RBs

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KU may have the best group of running backs in the conference - and yes I know that’s saying something. It’s also not hyperbole.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Does Kansas have the best group of running backs in the nation? Khalil Herbert thinks so. But of course, he’s supposed to think that. RB is indeed one of KU’s strongest position groups entering the 2019 season - let’s see what the Jayhawks have.

Case for Optimism

Kansas loses only two running backs off its roster from last season (Deron Thompson, Reese Randall), and neither of them had more than 10 touches in 2018. Back are Khalil Herbert and Dom Williams, who will back up the electrifying Pooka Williams. Williams averaged 7.0 yards per carry last season over 161 attempts, and had over 1400 yards from scrimmage. Herbert and Williams are no slouches either, both averaging over 4.2 ypc. If Pooka stays healthy, a dark horse Heisman run is possible, but much more likely in 2020 or 2021.

Case for Concern

Off field issues, I guess? The group really doesn’t have a weakness. They’re deep, talented, and experienced. Pooka is the lightning to the thunder of Khalil/Dom, but another legal issue and Pooka is likely done in Lawrence. Not that Herbert and Dom wouldn’t fill in, and likely admirably, but they just don’t have the shiftiness and explosiveness that Pooka has.

Projected Depth Chart

I really don’t know who to slot in behind the three-headed monster so I’ll take a random guess there, but the first three are pretty obvious.

RB1 - SO Pooka Williams (Suspended for Game 1 vs Indiana State)

RB2 - SR Khalil Herbert

RB3 - JR Dom Williams

RB4 - FR Velton Gardner

Coaching

The running backs are coached by Tony Hull, one of the two holdovers from the David Beaty era. Hull has been instrumental in getting guys like Mike Lee, Corione Harris, and the aforementioned Pooka Williams to Lawrence. Prior to KU, Hull spent 11 seasons coaching high school in Louisiana, and prior to that, he was a rocket scientist for NASA.

Really. He was. I promise. Related: Did you know Jeff Withey was a volleyball player?

Conclusion

I’ve already said this once, but this group is deep, talented, and experienced. The Jayhawks have a couple of promising recruits in the 2019 class that will fit in at RB as well, so the future looks bright. If you’re looking for a bright spot for 2019, look no further.