Transfers to watch: running backs

After looking at some of the quarterback transfers ready to line up under center for their new teams, today the National Football Post looks at some of the notable running back transfers who will be looking to make an impact in 2010 for a school they did not originally enroll in.

Running backs

Sam McGuffie, Rice: The Michigan transfer arrived in Ann Arbor amid a boatload of hype after a prolific high school career, one that included 5,847 rushing yards, 83 career touchdowns and video highlights still being watched today. He responded with a solid freshman campaign in which he led the Wolverines in rushing despite missing three games due to injury, producing 486 yards and three touchdowns on 118 carries — including starting the season opener against Utah and compiling 178 all-purpose yards against Notre Dame. But the 5-11, 195-pounder wasn’t happy being so far away from his family in Texas, so he decided to transfer closer to home. The Rice football family couldn’t be happier, as the former Wolverine will be a big part of the Owls’ offense. Head coach David Baliff was able to get a back that should produce every Saturday in Conference USA — a pass-happy league not used to defending impact runners. He will be used in a variety of ways on offense because he is so good in the open field changing directions and has pass-catching ability. Despite never being the biggest guy on the field, he could make defenders miss both with his cut-back ability and his surprising ease in bowling over the opposition when need be — a complete package that most big-name schools would have loved to have on their roster. But McGuffie didn’t want to go anywhere else but home.

Stats at Michigan:

2008: 118 rushes for 486 yards and 3 TDs (4.1 YPC).

Raymond Carter, Colorado State: It’s unlikely that Raymond Carter will have the same impact on Colorado State’s offense that McGuffie will have at Rice, only because the Rams have so much depth in the backfield. But the UCLA transfer is too talented to be kept off of the field, so the expectations are that the former prep All-American will somehow find carries in the fall. But it will be tough with the Rams returning 92 percent of their rushing yardage from 2009 in the form of seniors Leonard Mason and John Mosure and sophomore Lou Greenwood. Toss in well-built, yet speedy redshirt freshman Chris Nwoke, who is expected to help the Rams return to their power rushing ways, and there are only so many footballs to go around. Each one brings something different to the Rams’ backfield, but the 6-foot, 213-pound Carter brings an element of speed that is expected to complement Nwoke nicely as many expect the pair to emerge out of the logjam and become the two most productive backs for head coach Steve Fairchild. Carter is eager to get his career back on track after battling injuries during his short stay at UCLA and hopes to prove that his impressive displays on the practice field — including once recording a 4.37 second 40-yard dash time — can be translated into productive Saturdays in the fall.

Stats at UCLA:

2008: 25 rushes for 29 yards and 1 TD (1.2 YPC).

Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech: Lennon Creer played two seasons at Tennessee before transferring upon the arrival of Lane Kiffin in Knoxville. He saw action in 24 games for the Vols, rushing for 388 yards and four scores while averaging over five yards per carry in 2008. With the departure of Daniel Porter, the Louisiana Tech junior has emerged to become the featured back for new head coach Sonny Dykes. In three live scrimmages this spring for the Bulldogs, the 6-1, 205-pounder rushed 30 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns, impressing Dykes with his work ethic and ability to get better each practice. Although the Bulldogs will be employing the spread offense, the ball should get in Creer’s hands enough to keep him happy. Sophomore Lyle Fitte, who moved to the backfield from wide receiver, should be a nice change-of-pace back.

Stats at Tennessee:

2007: 36 rushes for 214 yards and 1 TD (5.9 YPC).
2008: 73 rushes for 388 yards and 4 TDs (5.3 YPC).

Cameron Bell, Northern Illinois: Chad Spann is already entrenched as the starter at Northern Illinois, but Iowa State transfer Cameron Bell gives the Huskies depth at the running position not seen since current NFL performers Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe led productive Huskies backfields in 2003 and 2004. The 6-2, 243-pound former linebacker will be joined by junior-college transfer Jasmin Hopkins and Ricky Crider in the backfield, with Bell providing the punch behind Spann, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Noteworthy is the fact that Bell led all rushers with 46 yards on nine carries in the team’s spring game. Head coach Jerry Kill is used to employing a backfield rotation from his days at Southern Illinois when he had the likes of Muhammad Abdulqaadir and Brandon Jacobs, so expect a similar situation in DeKalb in the fall.

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