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Position preview: Stable of UT running backs ready to contribute

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    Shakif Seymour is the leading returning rusher for Toledo.

    BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

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    Junior Art Thompkins provides speed and burst in the UT backfield.

    BLADE/LORI KING

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    Running back Bryant Koback could be the X-factor for the Rockets this season.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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Running back has been a strong point for University of Toledo coach Jason Candle since he took over for the Rockets. He has coached the likes of Kareem Hunt, Terry Swanson, and Damion Jones-Moore. This season would appear to be one of his deepest groups yet.

With the recent news that Kentucky transfer and Springfield High School grad Bryant Koback is eligible this season, the running back position is stockpiled with proven talent and untapped potential.

“Running back has been a picture of consistency for us over the years here,” Candle said. “I don’t expect that to change this season. There is a lot of competition there. I expect one of three, four, maybe five guys that go in the football game will have the opportunity to touch the ball and make things happen.”

Shakif Seymour bullied his way to 12 touchdowns last season in a complementary role to Terry Swanson, including five TDs in a win at Bowling Green. Art Thompkins rushed for 629 yards as a change of pace back and broke an 88-yard run against Bowling Green.

Koback is the X-factor as he works to get acclimated with the Toledo offense. Some combination of Seymour, Thompkins, and Koback should account for a majority of carries this season. But don’t rule out talented redshirt freshman Nicholas Sims, the powerful Nevone McCrimmon, and converted safety Ronnie Jones.

Graduated

2 Terry Swanson

Returning Players

21 Shakif Seymour (5-11, 225, So.) 116 carries, 702 yards, 12 touchdowns

33 Art Thompkins (5-8, 187, Jr.) 104 carries, 629 yards, two touchdowns

34 Nevone McCrimmon (5-11, 236, So.) Nine carries, 80 yards

23 Nicholas Sims (5-11, 195, R-Fr.) Sat out as a redshirt

New additions

22 Bryant Koback (6-0, 195, R-Fr.) Transferred from Kentucky

5 Ronnie Jones (6-1, 195, Jr.) Played safety last season

Fall camp needs

For this group, fall camp will be about pushing one another to the limit and making the collective group better. This is probably not a year where one player will dominate the running back workload. It’s important for guys like Koback, Sims, and Jones to get more reps this fall and continue their progression. Seymour and Thompkins have already proved what they can do on the field, but they can’t be complacent because they will be pushed for playing time. The position is in good hands with six players that can impact the game when called upon.

Player on the Spot

Ronnie Jones. Jones came to Toledo as a running back out of high school, but played as a backup safety the past two seasons. In 2016, Jones made five tackles and in 2017 added 12 tackles. With Jones at his natural position, Candle said the team made the position change because they believed Jones could be part of the backfield mix. This is a guy that rushed for 1,921 yards as a senior at Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The talent is there and he should not be overlooked.

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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