The Central Florida Knights will be making the move the Big East (soon to be the AAC) next season and head coach George O’Leary will look to his running game to guide them through their inaugural BCS season. The Knights are looking for a new primary running back, however, this spring and Storm Johnson looks poised to step up. Before he does that, though, he will have to prove that he can be a complete running back in 2013 .
O’Leary wants his running backs to be able to run in a downhill, power running game with the ability grind out yards between the tackles. The former Miami Hurricanes transfer has shown a great ability to bust off big runs, but they’ve mainly come by bouncing the play to the outside and beating defenders to the corner. It worked out pretty well last season when Johnson gained 507 yards on 113 carries with four touchdowns as the No. 2 running back behind Latavius Murray. He has to show more toughness when he runs, however, if he wants to be considered more than the change-of-pace back.
He will have some competition for the job this spring. Sophomore Cedric Thompson has the size and mentality to be that between-the-tackles back O’Leary likes to feed during games. At 6-foot, 218-pounds, Thompson can bang inside and gain those tough yards when they need them, letting Johnson maintain his situational speedster role from last year. Thompson saw limited action in 2012, gaining 62 yards on 13 carries but still scored a touchdown and has been working in with the No. 1 offense during spring practice.
Johnson remains the Knights’ best home-run threat out of the backfield, but O’Leary will be looking for more consistent production than just the occasional big-play flash. Johnson has the opportunity to show he has grown into a complete running back and take the tough three-yard gains that keep an offense moving throughout a game. Will he be able to seize that opportunity and make a name for himself next season?