2016 In Review: Running Backs
Where will the Pirates turn after the graduation of James Summers?
East Carolina entered the 2016 season on paper having one of the deepest running back units in recent memory, but the group was inconsistent at best in a 3-9 season.
While part of the struggles in the running games can be chalked up to the struggles of the offensive line - ECU averaged just 3.9 yards rushing per carry and 132 per game on the ground - the running back corps just didn't deliver as a whole, and ultimately, the season ended with a former quarterback and athlete in James Summers carrying the load out of the backfield.
Summers stepped in for one-time starter Anthony Scott the second half of the year and did deliver at an above average rate, despite not playing the position before. Summers averaged a team-best 5.4 yards per carry and totaled 869 yards and seven touchdowns on 162 totes.
Scott, who the coaching staff relied heavily on early in the season, never really found his rhythm after a successful season opener. There were flashes, but there were also way too many drops and fumbles. Scott was benched after the Cincinnati game due to his inability to hold onto the football consistently and he eventually lost the final quarter of his season due to a broken collarbone.
Devin Anderson looked strong at the front and end of the season, carrying the rock 57 times for 258 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore. The physical back stands a chance to see his snaps increase heading into his upperclassmen years.
Considering he was learning the position on the fly, it's tough to ask for much more out of Summers, who led the team in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry amongst regulars. Summers began the year as a backup quarterback and wildcat-type gadget player, but eventually transitioned to the full-time back after Scott's ball security problems.
All things considered, Summers showed plenty of versatility over his two-year career in Greenville, and he deserves a gold star for his unselfishness and effort in all facets.
1. Anthony Scott (Sr.) OR
Devin Anderson (Jr.)
2. Hussein Howe (So.)
3. Derrell Scott (Jr.)
4. Trace Christian (Fr.)
There's simply a lot of unknown here. So much so that I don't feel good at all about any single projection on the depth chart above. The Pirates' staff had plenty of confidence in Anthony Scott heading into last season, but he never quite found it, and the fumble concerns will be a major point of emphasis heading into his senior year. Anderson, meanwhile still has a lot to learn about the position, but was the most consistent back in the group above when given an opportunity last season.
As for the rest of the unit, it's a toss up. Howe saw carries in the season opener as a true freshman and the staff was high on his ability, but he all but disappeared after that. Where does he stand heading into his sophomore season? Shawn Furlow is transferring, and at this point, Derrell Scott could follow after not seeing a single snap as a sophomore.
Christian is probably the most intriguing of the bunch. The recent ECU commit is expected to enroll in January and his ability to go through spring practice combined with his intelligence and talent could have him in line to compete for playing time right away.
The Pirates' coaching staff has a lot to figure out here.
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