MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU’s running backs will be shouldering the load next season, and when you look at the depth and versatility at the position, it’s not hard to see why.
Even with one offseason departure, it’s one of the deepest position groups. There are six total running backs on Chad Scott’s depth chart. Half of them have experience as a Mountaineer while the other half are freshmen.
CJ Donaldson is the top returner at the position in terms of stats. He had a breakout freshman campaign and is poised for even more success as a sophomore. While junior Justin Johnson is the most veteran player of the group, and Jaylen Anderson ended the season on a high note, the newcomers are making that room even more competitive.
Jahiem White joined the Mountaineers in the spring and showed off his wheels in the Gold-Blue game. After popping off a big run, Neal Brown said it was clear that the 5-foot-7-inch, 190-pound White was already a fan favorite.
For the first two weeks of fall camp, WVU will be two-spotting all group and team periods. That allows everyone to get reps and is extremely beneficial for the younger players like White.
“We’ve got to get the ball in his hands,” Scott said. “That’s the beauty of two-spotting. It shows us what he can handle. We won’t ask a lot of him. When you have a guy that talented, the worst thing you can do is make him play a lot slower than he is.”
Scott said over the past few days, he’s been “a fly on the wall” around the defense, and from what he’s seen, White’s speed isn’t going unnoticed.
“Hearing those guys talk, they can’t find him. He’s hard to find,” Scott said. “Talking about pad level, he’s got it naturally. He’s fast. He sees it really well. He’s got phenomenal vision. I’m excited to see what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
With that many players competing at the position, it may seem like game reps will be hard to come by, but when you have players that talented, Scott knows they must get the ball any way they can.
In order to do so, he is working on formations that put two guys from his room on the field at the same time. Donaldson, White and Anderson have the ability to line up in the slot and play across multiple positions.
For Johnson and freshman DJ Oliver, they will be relied on primarily for their rushing ability and will have opportunities to catch passes out of the backfield.
“He’s a load,” Scott said of Oliver. “I tell him and CJ Donaldson when guys see the number 4 and 20, which is what DJ Oliver is wearing, they are going to have to make some business decisions. Those are some big guys with a lot of momentum moving forward.”
For comparison, Donaldson is listed at 6-foot-1-inch and 238 pounds on WVU’s roster. Oliver is 5-foot-11-inches and pushing 250.
“When he got here, his teammates weren’t sure what position he played,” Scott said. “They know what he is now. He can run the football.”