Justin Fuente is doing everything he can to create a winning atmosphere within the Memphis Tigers as they head into the American Athletic Conference in 2013. That means opening up every position to competition this offseason and finding the players who give him the best chance to win. This philosophy opens the door for some unknown players to step up, including incoming freshman and running back Marquis Warford looks ready to make a splash immediately.
The 5-foot-8, 169-pound, three-star running back out of San Antonio, Texas, has all the skills to be an impact player. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his speed, elusiveness, vision and hands out of the backfield. Last fall, Warford ran for 2,322 yards and averaged 11.9 yards per carry during his senior season in high school. His ability to make lateral cuts in the hole and in the open field makes him an incredible offensive threat with the ball in his hands.
He will get a fair look this fall as Fuente hopes to continue improving the Memphis running game. Last season, he doubled the Tigers’ rushing output from the season before as Brandon Hayes and Jai Steib split the carries. Both put in solid efforts, Hayes rushing for 576 yards and six touchdowns and Steib adding 427 yards and six touchdowns, but the rushing game still ranked No. 70 in the country. There’s plenty of room for improvement.
Installing an explosive playmaker like Warford could be just the jolt that the Tigers’ offense needs in 2013. His size and inexperience will prevent him from taking over the starting running back job full time, but there is undoubtedly a place for him in the offensive rotation if he can even come close to replicating his production from his prep career.