All four running backs on the Georgia Southern two-deep — Adam Urbano, Brandon Nolley, Zeke Rozier and Darreion Robinson — are underclassmen or first-year players.
Of course, compared to the wide receivers, these guys look like seasoned veterans.
Rozier and Urbano are sophomores, Robinson is a redshirt freshmen and Nolley, a junior, is a product of Georgia Military College.
Urbano is not only the leading rusher returning to the squad, but his 342 yards of offense in 2008 are second only to sophomore quarterback Lee Chapple.
Although limited, the experience of the running backs in 2008 may pay dividends for what is arguably the most complicated position in the offense.
“They’ve got a lot of responsibility out there,” said coach Chris Hatcher. “They’ve got to be a good pass catcher, they’ve got to be a good runner and they’ve got to be able to pick up the blitz, so we ask a lot out of those guys. Probably other than the quarterback position, they probably have to know as much as anybody on the football field.”
Sometimes, it feels like they might as well be playing quarterback.
“I’ve thought about that before,” said Urbano, who scored two overtime, game-winning touchdowns in 2008. “We all feel like quarterbacks. We’ve got to make calls, we’ve got to help out the linemen. We all do our part, and everything goes smoothly.”
Like a Swiss Army knife, the running backs, especially the H-backs who line up all over the field, need to do a little bit of everything. Sometimes, pass blocking is the hardest part of the job.
“We’re a little undersized, but you’ve got to have courage and just stick your face in there,” said Urbano, who weighs in at 190 pounds. “There were a lot of times last year and this year, this spring, even today, so pass (blocking) is my biggest thing I’ve gotta work on. All the backs that we have — they’re great with the ball, great catchers, great runners — just gotta be great pass blockers.”
Playing running back in Georgia Southern’s offense is “a lot of fun, because you get to do a little bit of everything,” said offensive coordinator Rance Gillespie.
Rozier, (6-1, 200) believes keeping his composure on the field with all of the responsibility that comes along with the position is often the toughest part. The backs need to have full knowledge of blocking schemes, passing routes and runs.
“Sometimes you lose yourself out there,” Rozier said, “but you’ve got to regain your composure. That’s one thing the coaches preach — facing adversity and regaining your composure.”