posted on July 25, 2012 15:27
Leading up to the start of Missouri's preseason camp on August 2, we'll take a look at each position, breaking down the incumbents, the new names and the story lines that will begin to form the narrative of Missouri's first season in the SEC. Today, we'll continue with running back.
INCUMBENT: Kendial Lawrence (Sr.)
Lawrence is the de facto incumbent, as Henry Josey's knee injury will likely sideline him for this season. Lawrence showed glimpses of his explosiveness over his first three years, but it wasn't until Josey went down that he became a consistent, tough runner. Lawrence ran for 371 yards over the last four games, and that included his only two 100-yard performances in his career. In Missouri's backfield, depth is the key, but Lawrence will begin as the starter.
CHALLENGERS: Marcus Murphy (RS So.), Jared McGriff-Culver (RS Jr.), Russell Hansbrough (Fr.), Morgan Steward (Fr.)
Murphy may be the biggest threat to Lawrence as starter. Murphy missed all of 2011 after tearing his labrum prior to the season, but is an explosive, shifty back. He's also Missouri's best receiver out of the backfied, and that could be a huge boon for James Franklin this year. McGriff-Culver is a bruiser, and while he likely won't start, he'll be a big situational threat this season, especially in short-yardage situations. Hansbrough and Steward were both dynamic high school runners, and at least one will see time this year.
STORYLINES: Can a freshman break out?
If there's any season for a freshman tailback to star, it's this one. Lawrence is a solid back, but there's no clear-cut, every-down runner on the roster. Steward is a bigger back, and he made a name for himself first as a fullback at Kansas City's Staley High School. He's a good blocker and receiver. But, it's been Hansbrough that's drawn rave reviews this summer, and TJ Moe compared him to Josey. If one of these two backs can break out, Missouri's running back depth won't miss a beat in Josey's absence.