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Fall Camp Preview: Running Backs

Florida State enters the 2018 season with one of the most talented backfields in the nation. Cam Akers, Khalan Laborn, and Jacques Patrick were all composite top-40 overall recruits coming out of high school according to 247 Sports.

There should be plenty of carries to go around as Willie Taggart brings his Gulf Coast Offense to Tallahassee. With Taggart calling the plays for Oregon a season ago, only 11 teams in the nation ran the ball at a higher percentage than the Ducks. Since Taggart’s debut of his Gulf Coast Offense, his teams have run the ball roughly 65% of the time.

With such a loaded backfield, Florida State looks to boast one of the most explosive rushing attacks in the nation in 2018.

Departures: As far as contributors go, none. The Seminoles return players who accounted for 95% of their rushing attempts in 2017.

Returnees: SR Jacques Patrick, SO Cam Akers, RS FR Khalan Laborn, JR Amir Rasul, RS FR Zaquandre White.

Newcomers: Anthony Grant.

2018 outlook: While the backfield is arguably the deepest unit on Florida State’s roster, it looks as it will be mainly a three-man rotation this season.

Sophomore sensation Cam Akers has little to prove in fall camp as he will look to separate himself as the clear starter. Akers is an elusive and tough runner with game-breaking ability. He flashed during his freshman campaign on his way to breaking Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record at Florida State.

The most intriguing battle at the unit will be between Patrick and Laborn. Patrick is a proven college back who has rushed for 1,412 and 16 touchdowns in his career. Quickly chasing him up the depth chart is Laborn, who exploded onto the radar during spring camp. Laborn left the crowd at FSU’s annual Garnet and Gold game stunned when he took off on this 91-yard touchdown run.

As the season goes on, it could be the Akers and Laborn show with Patrick finding himself in a more limited, situational role on short yardage downs and late in games. Even if that is the case, he should see plenty of carries in the Gulf Coast Offense. In 2017, Oregon ran the ball 165 more times than Florida State with Taggart calling the plays for the Ducks.

It’s hard to imagine any other back receiving many meaningful carries but a dark horse to keep an eye on is junior Amir Rasul. Rasul possesses elite speed and could be featured in some special packages.

Overall, the stable in FSU’s backfield should be one of the key strengths for the Seminoles in 2018. With elite talent and depth in a run-heavy offense, the Seminoles could put up staggering numbers on the ground in 2018.


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