Injuries leave Florida State thin at running back for spring game

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Running back James Wilder Jr. will sit out the rest of Florida State's spring practice. (USATSI)
Running back James Wilder Jr. will sit out the rest of Florida State's spring practice. (USATSI)

Florida State's depth at running back is going to be one of the reasons the Seminoles are expected to be in the mix to defend their ACC title in 2013.

Fans might not get a chance to see that depth on display in the annual spring game on Saturday because of injuries to James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman and Mario Pender.

Jimbo Fisher announced Wednesday that Wilder might have aggravated a pre-existing rib injury during a scrimmage on Monday. The junior running back has been shut down for the rest of spring.

"It had been bothering him ever since last year," Fisher said of Wilder's injury. "They saw a slight crack in one of them things, so we'll just hold him."

Fellow junior Freeman has been battling an ankle injury during spring practice. According to Fisher, it is doubtful that he will play on Saturday. It is also possible that Pender, a highly-touted redshirt freshman, will miss the spring game. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Pender injured his head in the middle of Monday's scrimmage and did not finish the practice.

All three running backs are expected to be at full health in time for offseason workouts and preseason camp. Their potential absence means Seminole fans could end up seeing a healthy dose of fullback Chad Abram and redshirt freshman Will Burnham in the spring game.

Wilder and Freeman combined for 1,295 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns last season, each averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry. When starting running back Chris Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury, the pair of then-sophomores became Florida State's closers in several tight ACC contests -- most notably Florida State's 21-15 ACC Championship Game win, in which Wilder earned MVP honors with 69 yards and two touchdowns.

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