With the three top rushers from last season’s team graduated, there appeared to be an opportunity for running back Willie Davis to move up into the backfield rotation in his sophomore season with the South Florida Bulls. When Bradley Battles got kicked off the team, making the depth chart even less crowded, it appeared like a certainty. But as spring practice rolls on, is Davis falling down the depth chart for 2013?
The competition didn’t appear to be too thick for playing time next fall when spring practice opened. The team’s three leading rushers, running backs Demetris Murray and Lindsey Lamar along with quarterback B.J. Daniels, were all gone, leaving just three running backs on the roster who had recorded a carry. One of them, Battles, is no longer with the team, leaving a pretty clear path for Davis to improve on his two carries for seven yards in seven games performance from 2012.
But it doesn’t appear that he is making much of an impression this spring. No. 1 running back was filled early by senior Marcus Shaw, the only returning rusher with any significant production last season. He finished fourth on the team in rushing in 2012, gaining 248 yards on 51 carries in 11 games. He is penciled in at the top of the depth chart next fall to be the go-to back for the Bulls’ offense.
The No. 2 running back spot was where Davis was supposed to slot this spring, but he has been overtaken by Michael Pierre. Coaches have been very impressed with the junior this spring, which is interesting considering he was redshirted last season behind Davis and Battles. It seems that he used that time off well and has come back this spring with strong showings in practice, grabbing hold of the No. 2 running back position.
But his jump up the depth chart has pushed Davis back down. Will he be able to respond to being passed over and set himself up for success in the coming seasons, particularly in 2014 when Shaw is graduated? Or will this derail his collegiate career before it ever gets started?