2013 FSU Spring Breakdown: Running Backs

By David Botello
College Football Editor

Breakdown:

The FSU running backs head into spring with the same issue as the offensive line we discussed yesterday: loads of talent but lacking depth. The Noles return Devonta Freeman (1,239 yds/18 TDs in first two seasons) and man-child powerback James Wilder Jr. (635 yds/11 TDs last season) to carry the bulk of the load in 2013. After senior Chris Thompson went down mid-season to an ACL injury, Wilder and Freeman split duties and led FSU to their first BCS bowl victory since 2000. Joining Wilder and Freeman in the rotation this spring will be freshman Mario Pender, a stronger and faster version of home-run hitter Chris Thompson. I absolutely love the talent that FSU has stocked up in the backfield, but as banged up as the running back position gets throughout the course of a season, I’m just a little worried about depth here. The Noles will also add Ryan Green in the fall, the top running back prospect in the state of Florida for the class of 2013.

Another key component in last season’s ground success was senior fullback Lonnie Pryor, who exploded for 134 yards and 2 TDs on five carries in the Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois. Pryor was a senior leader on the field and a tremendous blocker in both run and pass situations. Stepping up to fill that role this season is junior fullback Chad Abram. Abram is a near physical clone of Pryor, but lacks the reps and experience of his predecessor. Abram has all the tools to be a force in the backfield for FSU, and reports out of Tallahassee indicate that he’ll fill in nicely for the departed Pryor.

Returning For Spring: (class year denotes 2012-13 season)

Name                              Yr.                Ht./Wt

Chad Abram                 JR              6’0″/235

Devonta Freeman          SO            5’8″/200

Mario Pender                FR             5’10/190

James Wilder Jr.            SO            6’2″/220

Who To Watch: Mario Pender (FR)

Sure, the backfield loses seniors Chris Thompson and Lonnie Pryor, but it gains a potential superstar in freshman Mario Pender. Pender was rated by Rivals as the No. 4 running back in the nation coming out of high school in 2012. He excelled last spring as an early enrollee, but suffered a sports hernia injury which kept him out much of last fall and garnered him a redshirt season in 2012. Pender has blazing speed and is a threat to take it to the house whenever he touches the ball. He will be a great compliment to the power and balanced running styles of Freeman and Wilder and I can’t wait to see him at the spring game. He also has the best hair on the team, with Wilder a close second. (Watch the videos to see what I mean)

New Running Backs Coach Jay Graham:

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhX1FAWou0I” autohide=”1″]

 

Sophomore Running Back James Wilder Jr:

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk8H2IHJU54″ autohide=”1″]

 

Freshman Running Back Mario Pender:

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHKVsPOs8z8″ autohide=”1″]

Videos Courtesy of The Florida State University Athletics Department and Seminoles.com

 

Next Up On 4/4: Receivers/Tight Ends

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