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Louisville Football Position Preview: Running Backs

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Javian Hawkins is gone. Could the Running Back position somehow be improved?

Syracuse v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Two years ago, Louisville fans got a pleasant surprise when Javian Hawkins announced himself loudly against Notre Dame in a nationally televised game. Jalen Mitchell has a chance to do the same when Louisville heads to Atlanta in September. There’s no question that Louisville has a tall task when it comes to replacing the production of Hawkins, but I think there is a chance that they could do that with more depth at their disposal.

The assumption going into this season is that Jalen Mitchell will be the first-string running back. Mithcell finished last season averaging 7.3 yards per carry over his last four games. That includes a 168-yard outburst in the finale against Wake Forest. Mitchell also showed the vision and decisiveness needed in the zone scheme Louisville runs. Those two traits will likely get him more carries than the rest of the group.

Hassan Hall is said to be back in the form we saw him in 2019 when he was one of the best kick returners in the country. Hall should be able to provide a different gear for the offense with his speed but he has to focus on cutting down on fumbles as well as his tendency to look for the big play on every touch. With his great speed, Hall could provide a different dimension for the offense if Scott Satterfield chooses to use him as an option to stretch the field width-wise. Tutu Atwell was great in that role and Hall could provide different looks for the defense if he’s on the field with Mitchell at the same time.

The depth at Running Back is good but unproven. Maurice Burkley is one of the key leaders on the team and he is a Special Teams ace. Burkley also has played well in the few opportunities he has been given. He runs very hard and makes the defense work to bring him down and his speed is solid.

The two players who could be wildcards this year are Treveon Cooley and Greg Desrosiers. Cooley is a 4-star freshman who has great top-end speed and good size. He missed some of the spring with an injury but his speed alone should give him a chance to see the field. Desrosiers is a walk-on who bulked up a bit and turned heads in the spring. He is a legit “track guy” who could be an option in passing situations after moving from Wide Receiver after his first year with the team.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE

It has to be Jalen Mitchell. Showing flashes like he did late last season is one thing, but the way he fits this offense is what really stands out to me. Louisville wants to pound the football all game and look for opportunities to hit the big play in the passing game. Mitchell’s size allows Satterfield to wear down a defense and the lack of star power at receiver will likely mean more loaded boxes to run against. Mitchell will have a very key role on this team and I’ve been willing to say he will be the most important player on the team.