Clemson’s backfield will have a new look next season — one way or another.
Either D.J. Howard, Zac Brooks or C.J. Davidson will step up into a mainstay role at running back, or the Tigers will transition the position into the hands of five of their youngest players: Wayne Gallman, Tyshon Dye, Jae’lon Oglesby, Adam Choice and C.J. Fuller.
Whatever happens when the competition begins, the Tigers will have the deepest stable of backs yet to arm Chad Morris’ offense.
As a group, the backs are bigger, faster and stronger than in the past — a reflection of the direction Morris wants to go with his offense.
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Another power-back option at position coach Tony Elliott’s disposal will be rising sophomore Jay Jay McCullough, who was recruited for the hybrid tight end-running back role and made his backfield debut against The Citadel.
Howard, Brooks and Davidson combined for 400 snaps, 138 carries and 635 yards this season behind mainstay Rod McDowell, who played 538 snaps and rushed 177 times for 956 yards.
Both Gallman and Dye redshirted this fall — Dye because of a back injury that eventually required surgery, and Gallman by choice. Gallman will join the competition this spring, while Dye will be limited as he continues to rehab but should be good to go for summer workouts.
If Gallman and Dye can push the returning veterans during preseason work, the coaching staff may be able to exercise the same option with Oglesby, Fuller and Choice, all of whom will arrive next summer.
With Clemson’s recruiting done for the 2014 cycle, the Tigers are evaluating 2015 running back prospects and have offers out to about a dozen players.
For 2016, Clemson has offered Tavien Feaster of Spartanburg.