Last year’s East-West Shrine Game hosted Broncos breakout running back Phillip Lindsay among their talent of running backs. A starter for the West team, Lindsay logged 51 rushing yards in the 93rd edition of the all-star event. Is there a Lindsay among this year’s crop of talent?
While UDFAs rushing for 1,000 yards is hard to predict, there’s certainly talent present in this year’s running back group for the Shrine. This is one of the more talented Shrine rosters in recent memory…the running back class is no exception. Here’s your primer for the running backs scheduled to attend next week’s East-West Shrine Game.
The East team is headlined by Maryland’s Ty Johnson. Listed at 5-foot-10, 212 lbs, Johnson has had his fair share of explosive plays over the course of his time with the Terps. Johnson had a breakout season in 2016 as a junior, where he logged 1004 rushing yards on just 110 carries and averaged nearly 10 yards per touch from scrimmage.
A rough senior season has cost Johnson some of his perceived value, but if healthy and able to showcase his special teams value and third down skills, Johnson may be an emerging Day 3 running back worth paying attention to!
Another East back worth noting? Virginia’s Jordan Ellis. Ellis is a big, thick back at 225 pounds and had himself a career season in 2018. With 215 carries under his belt this season, Ellis logged 1026 yards and ten touchdowns on the ground. He’s much more of a grinder than Johnson, but each of their unique dynamics will give them a chance to shine throughout the course of the week next week.
Also on the East roster: Marquis Young (Massachusetts), Darnell Woolfolk (US Military Academy)
Woah, nelly. The West backs are stocked to the brim with promising young backs. There’s a whole lot of size in this group, too. The most household name of the group is LSU’s Nick Brossette. Any time you land an LSU Tiger, odds are the eyeballs are going to follow that helmet around closely. Brossette finally escaped the gauntlet of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice, breaking out in a big way in 2018 with 1039 yards and 14 touchdowns.
You’ll probably remember him best from the dominating performance he put on display against the Miami Hurricanes in Week One. Brossette is a gap/power hammer who will look to prove he’s got some dynamic skills in his game as well.
One big back that won’t have to worry about proving he’s got juice? Nebraska’s Devine Ozigbo. This is one of my favorite sleepers in the entire class. Ozigbo is 6-foot-0, 235 pounds. Having remade his body last off-season, Ozigbo exploded for 1082 rushing yards (7.0 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns. With smooth feet and a good second gear, Ozigbo will generate a lot of positive momentum for himself next week.
But if you want to talk about power and size, you’d be smart to mention the two-headed attack representing the Pitt Panthers. Qadree Ollison (6-foot-2, 225 lbs) and Darrin Hall (5-foot-11, 225 lbs) combined to rush for 2357 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2018. On an offense that didn’t offer much of a passing attack, that’s worth writing home about.
Hall is more compact than Ollison, but both will bring some surprising mobility to the position as well.
Consider the West backs one of the deepest position groups at next week’s Shrine festivities, bar none.