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Maryland football returns a loaded running back group in 2019

The Terps have five running backs with productive seasons under their belts.

Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

This summer, we’re going through each of Maryland football’s position groups leading up to the 2019 season. Last week, we looked at the Terps’ quarterbacks. This week, we’ll shift our focus to the running backs.

Maryland’s 2019 running backs

Player Year 2018
Player Year 2018
Anthony McFarland Jr. R-SO 131 ATT, 1,034 yds, 4 TD; 7 REC, 73 yds
Javon Leake JR 34 ATT, 309 yds, 7 TD; 1 REC, 4 yds
Tayon Fleet-Davis JR 75 ATT, 331 yds, 5 TD; 4 REC, 46 yds
Lorenzo Harrison III R-JR 10 ATT, 84 yds, 1 TD; 0 REC, 0 yds
Jake Funk R-JR 2 ATT, -2 yds, 0 TD; 1 REC, 4 yds

The Terps relied on the position heavily last season.

Maryland has made rushing the center of its offense in recent years, and that continued in 2018. The Terps accumulated 2,762 rushing yards last season compared to just 1,695 passing yards. Additionally, the team averaged 230.2 rushing yards per game, compared to just 141.3 passing yards per game.

With a new offensive scheme and more options at quarterback this season, the Terps probably won’t rely as much on the rushing game, but it will definitely continue to be a big part of the offense. It’s worth noting that both head coach Mike Locksley’s offense at Alabama and offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery’s scheme at East Carolina relied more on passing than rushing.

Montgomery hinted in the spring that the running backs will be used more in the passing game out of the backfield, and that showed in the spring game. Leake and other running backs said over the spring that they like their role better in Mongtomery’s system because it allows them to show more versatility.

The running back room brings a lot of experience.

The Terps return five of their six running backs from last season, and each one has had on-field experience and at least two years of college under their belt. Maryland did lose Ty Johnson, who rushed for 506 yards last season and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, but the team has a slew of running backs to take over his role.

Anthony McFarland had a breakout redshirt freshman season for Maryland in 2018, leading the team with 1,034 rushing yards on 131 attempts. While Jake Funk and Lorenzo Harrison III didn’t see much game action while dealing with injuries, Tayon Fleet-Davis and Javon Leake each had over 300 yards despite limited carries.

Funk and Harrison are still rehabbing their injuries from last season, and it’s unclear when they’ll be back in playing shape, so McFarland, Fleet-Davis and Leake should have a leg up entering fall camp. Once Funk and Harrison do return, they will only add more talent to the running back room. Funk had 281 yards on 56 attempts from 2016-17, while Harrison rushed for 1,255 yards on 225 carries during that same span.

There’s plenty of depth, but McFarland is the star.

While there’s a lot of potential at the running back position, it’s pretty clear that McFarland will be the Terps’ No. 1 guy. He took the most attempts of anyone on the team last season in his first year on the field and was one of the most consistent pieces of the team’s offense.

McFarland impressed Maryland fans by breaking the school record for single-season rushing yards by a freshman, but also made a name for himself nationally. He ranked sixth in the country in rush yards per carry last season (7.9) to earn Second Team All-Big Ten honors, and was also named a FWAA Freshman All-American. He’ll look to build on that success this season.