Now that we've done the most exciting position battle, it's time to move onto the second most exciting one: running back. I don't really want to say this is a position battle, because it will almost be a RB-by-committee type of deal, but their performance will certainly impact how big of a part of that committee each of these guys are.
Because there's no "starter", you can't really put statistical odds on it, but the rest of the breakdown is extant:
The Would-Be Star: Da'Rel Scott
Da'Rel Scott isn't far away from being a perfect running back. He's lightning fast, has great vision, can make people miss in the open field, and is strong enough to break a tackle or two. Unfortunately, his two flaws are difficult to overcome: fumbling and injuries.
Last year, Scott missed five games after he broke his wrist mid-way through the year. Even before then, though, his season was supremely average. Mostly a result of a horrid offensive line, he was constantly stymied at the line of scrimmage, and those big runs we had become accustomed to seeing were nowhere to be found. Compounding the issue was a nasty habit of fumbling. It became an epidemic, and he was pulled from games more than once due to issues holding onto the ball.
Odds: He'll still be the #1 back on the depth chart, and deservedly so. He has the potential to be an All-ACC player if he can just hold the ball and stay on the field. He's too well-rounded and too talented to keep off the field.
The Legacy: Davin Meggett
Two years ago, Davin Meggett was my favorite player on the team. He was a hard-working, undersized, full-steam-ahead type of back. He was a load to stop and seemingly got three or four yards after contact on each carry.
That wasn't the case last year. Despite the occasional nice run, he was overwhelmingly disappointing. That's not exactly his fault, though - unlike Porzel and, to a lesser extent, Scott, he doesn't make too many people miss. Open him a hole and he'll drive through it better than most can, but he needs that hole in the first place. That makes it difficult to justify a ton of playing time given the woes of the offensive line.
Nothing's changed for Meggett since last year or the year before. He's the same small, strong, quick back that can run through secondaries if he can get there. Getting there's the problem.
Odds: He's currently tied with Scott for #1, but DRS will probably get the starting spot if he can figure out how to hold onto the ball. Meggett, however, could still get between 6-14 carries a game, like he did toward the latter part of his freshman year.
The Speedster: Caleb Porzel
Porzel was one of the few redshirt burnings I approved of when it happened. He came in after Scott's injury, and had high expectations. He was okay, but wasn't used nearly enough to justify the wasted redshirt. He's extraordinarily quick - he gets to top speed in no time flat, which is pretty impressive given how high his top speed is - and extremely shifty.
There's no reason he can't terrorize ACC linebackers and secondaries with his speed, which is C.J. Spiller-esque. The problem is 1) getting on the field as a relatively limited back (not a great blocker), and 2) squirming his way through the porous offensive line. If there are no holes, he can try to make something out of it, but will rarely succeed.
Porzel will be most effective in a Brian Westbrook type of role, where he can play anywhere on the field. Do reverses, options, misdirections, screens, line him up at WR - he's simply too dangerous to keep off the field altogether.
Odds: Tough to tell. Personally, I love Porzel as a playmaker and think he should be on the field a lot, though not necessarily at RB. Whether or not the coaches believe that as well is up in the air. My gut feeling is that he'll have a similar season to last year - a few touches, but not as many as we would want.
The Powerhouse: D.J. Adams
The thunder to Porzel's lightning, Adams came perilously close to burning his redshirt last season. He kept it, though, and the right decision was made. Adams is big and strong, more of a power back than anyone else on Maryland's team right now. When he starts running full-steam-ahead, it's very difficult to bring him down. He's not all that fast, but once he gets to the second level, he's strong enough to break tackles and gain more yardage.
Odds: Adams is in a precarious position, because he's the only guy in the backfield with no playing time, and is buried behind some pretty talented guys. He'll get some carries this year, but how he handles them will determine how many more he gets. Unless he is outstanding in practice, and he may be, I see this year as more of a development one for Adams.
The Forgotton One: Gary Douglas
Whenever we talk running backs, Gary Douglas always seems left out. We discuss the experienced Scott, or the lovable Meggett, or the speedy Porzel, but Douglas - the most well-rounded of them all - rarely gets brought up. He's shifty, relatively quick, relatively strong, and has solid hands. He came up big against Wake Forest with 81 yards, but was rarely used again after an injury against Duke.
Odds: Douglas is in a similar position to Adams, except he has a year less of eligibility. Is his well-rounded style enough to leapfrog him over any of the others? His play, while good at times, was inconsistent enough for Adams to get a fair shot at it. Practice, as usual, will have to determine his ultimate place, but I can't see him jumping Meggett and Scott.
The Cursed: Morgan Green
Darn you, Steve Slaton.