The Utah Utes have been spoiled with the career of John White in Salt Lake City. The former Utah standout was a durable runner that seemed to only get stronger as the game wore on and carried the load for the Utes’ running attack almost single-handedly. With White gone now, however, that responsibility falls to Kelvin York to shoulder. Will York prove up to the challenge of being the man out of the backfield?
In eight games last year, York showed some nice flashes of ability, averaging 4.55 yards per carry and scoring three touchdowns. When he was taking the first-team reps in the spring, York was even more impressive, according to head coach Kyle Whitingham. The 5-foot-11, 22-pound York got rave reviews from his coaches, but has some questions to answer this fall.
Namely, York must prove he can be a durable option like White was. He struggled to stay on the field during spring practice and missed several practices with a lingering foot injury. York has to show that he is completely past that injury and that he won’t be slowed down this fall or he might risk losing his spot at the top of the depth chart.
Directly behind York, the Utes have a number of talented backs looking for their opportunity to grab some playing time. During York’s absence during spring drills, backups James Poole, Lucky Radley and Karl Williams all stepped up and had strong showings. Poole benefited quite a bit from the added reps, showing off good hands and the athleticism to fit nicely into the wrinkles of the offensive system that Dennis Erickson is putting in.
The Utes have options at running back if York is not at 100 percent this fall. Will the heir apparent to the running back job respond to that pressure by finding a way to stay on the field or will his injury issues force him into a complementary role in 2013?