Northern Illinois 2013 Preview: State of the Running Back

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the running back position for the 2013 Northern Illinois Huskies. Who will help take the load off of Jordan Lynch?

One of the biggest stories of the 2013 season that is about to start in less than three weeks is not what you think.

While the hype has been around Jordan Lynch and the rest of the dynamic offense returning, not much has been talked about the running backs.

Last season, Jordan Lynch ran and ran and ran all over the field to a tune of 1,815 yds, the most ever for a QB over one season. Lynch was a one-man wrecking crew with 294 carries on the ground through out the year.

The next best was 101 by Leighton Settle for just 460 yds. Leighton Settle, a guy that only played in 8 games last year and started 5 out of the 6 games to open the season. He didn't even make the final roster last year. The hyped Jamal Womble turned in a DUI sometime last year and also didn't clear the roster.

That made way for Akeem Daniels in the backfield, but really Daniels at 5'7" 184 isn't really a full-time running back. He's more of a third-down back and clocked in with just 68 carries last year for 460 yds and 9 TDs. Not bad, considering that's 6.6 ypc. He also made an impact through the air catching 20 balls for 259 yds and 2 TDs. He seemed a little hurt against Florida State, but did make the biggest play of the game with a 55 yd reception to set up the lone touchdown.

True freshman Keith Harris Jr. was the third guy in the mix seriously last year as he went for 238 yds on 55 carries and 4 TDs. He was inconsistent last year and dealt with some ankle injuries. He did a hell of a job for a true frosh though.

It's better if Lynch doesn't have to do all of the things on offense, even looking at how successful NIU was last year with him as the main contributor.

What's going on in camp right now?

Akeem Daniels hasn't practiced this fall yet because of an ankle injury. This leaves the door wide open for newcomers:

"Gives us three solid guys right there to put in the game," Cole said of Stingily, Harris and Bowers. "We’re feeling pretty good about where we are at tailback right now."

Cameron Stingily is a beast at 6'1" 244 and should provide that power position at running back that has been vacant for a while now. He performed very well at the first fall scrimmage and looks to see a lot of time this season along with Harris.

Giorgio Bowers is a former Akron transfer that seemed to be still finding his way last year on the roster. Hopefully he can work his way into the rotation this year with a solid camp. The Junior stands at a balanced 5'8" 218 and I thought really should have gotten more playing time last year outside of garbage time.

Freshmen

In terms of young talent, NIU had a hell of a recruiting class this year in terms of bringing in talent. At the top of the list is the highly touted Aregeros Turner, who Steve Nitz says has been getting first-team reps. Jordan Huff and Joel Bouagnon are other names of note. Turner and Huff are speed backs, with Bouagnon clocking in at 6'2" 225. Turner is awesome as an upperclassman in NCAA Football 14.

Predictions

Lynch can't do it all. Daniels can't do it all. As a committee, this unit has a very high upside. However, it may take some time, as using backs by committee can be tricky.

Daniels and Harris will get their reps, but can get banged up easily. Cameron Stingily will be the big back. Who else will step up behind these players?

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