This week, we are taking a look at several positions for the reigning National Champs in Clemson. One key position up for discussion will be at running back, with the Tigers coaching staff looking to replace Wayne Gallman.
Gallman was a huge part of the offense in the past three years, especially as a sophomore and junior. Gallman racked up over 3,416 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns in his career as a Tiger and the coaching staff is hoping to replace him with talented backs looking to become a household name.
The summer depth chart was recently this past Monday, as C.J. Fuller is pegged early on as the starter, while junior Adam Choice and sophomore Tavien Feaster back up Fuller as follows.
Fuller looks to be the go-to back early on, coming off a season in which he averaged 4.5 yards per carry (47 attempts, 211 yards), while also showcasing his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield at times in 2016 (seven receptions, 62 yards, two touchdowns).
Anthony Messenger from Rubbing the Rock agrees as well that Fuller is the most complete back the Tigers have so far heading into the season.
“Fuller, he is the most balanced back on the team,” Messenger said in a recent interview. “He can run the ball well between the tackles, catch it out of the backfield and you can trust him in pass protection. The coaches obviously trust him as evident in the amount of snaps he logged this past season.”
Choice is looking to be the back-up for Fuller, but one to log critical carries throughout the season. He was able to rack up 158 rushing yards in 2016 on 45 carries, coming off a season in which he red-shirted after being injured with a season-ending torn ACL against Boston College on Oct. 18, 2014.
Choice is an interesting back-up heading into the season. Back in 2014, Choice came in as one of the top backs in the country and looked to possibly be a big-time prospect heading into the season. In fact, if it wasn’t for the injury, one could be looking at entirely different story these past few season.
“If it wasn’t for a season ending injury early on in his freshman season, we might not be having this conversation about Choice,” Messenger believes. “During that 2014 season, it appeared that Choice had beaten out fellow true freshman running back Wayne Gallman for the starting spot.”
Choice’s ability to be a down-hill runner should allow him to see the field once again, possibly in a bigger role than he was last season.
Tavien Feaster could be a wild-card heading into 2017 for the Tigers
The wild-card though in the discussion is sophomore Tavien Feaster, who was one of the top running backs in the nation just a few years ago and saw action in nine games as a true freshman. Feaster has the talent to be an elite back for the Tigers, as he continues to develop and work his way into more of a role in the offense.
The Tigers have three solid running backs heading into 2017, but the experience of being the go-to back isn’t quite there yet. The offense hopes to continue their success in running the ball, but Gallman will be difficult to replace in other areas of the field as the Tigers may possibly look at different protections to help out the inexperienced backs.
“Gallman was special in pass protection, so one may see Clemson give the backs less responsibility in pass protection in 2017,” Messenger said. “Maybe more use of two tight end packages.”