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Position Breakdown: Running Backs

Position Breakdown: Running Backs

April 2, 2007

ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio football team began its second week of spring practice on Monday, completing its fifth of 15 offseason workouts. Ohio has nine more practices before the annual Green & White game on April 21.

The Bobcats continued to utilize everyone on the roster by rotating numerous combinations on both sides of the ball.

"We have a long ways to go, but that's to be expected," Head Coach Frank Solich said. "We're giving an awful lot of guys a lot of reps, so we're trying to make it work and be fair in terms of evaluating everybody. When you do that, it kind of sets you back a little bit. We're not just working with the ones and the twos, so that's slowed us down a little bit. They want to be good, and they're working at it."

Two positions that do not need much evaluation are the tailback and fullback spots. Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) returns for what could be a record-breaking 2007. The two-time first-team All-MAC selection is only the second Bobcat ever to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Another 1,000 yards in 2007 would make him the first Ohio player with three 1,000-yard seasons, and 1,009 yards would put him atop the Bobcats' all-time rushing list.

Mitch Morsillo (Moon, Pa.) returns for his sophomore season at fullback. While he only started three times, Morsillo was Ohio's number one option at fullback, rushing 20 times for 60 yards and catching four passes for 22 yards.

Personnel Breakdown
Tailbacks
Josh Abrams • Senior
Abrams was a special teams ace for the Bobcats last season, playing on nearly every unit. He led the team with 11 special teams tackles and also blocked three kicks. Abrams rand the ball 19 times for 36 yards as a junior.

Kalvin McRae • Senior
Coming off his 1,252-yard, 15-touchdown junior year, McRae needs only 36 yards to become the third Bobcat with at least 3,000 rushing yards and 1,009 yards to break the school record. McRae will enter the 2007 season as the NCAA's third-leading active rusher with 2,964 yards. He also led the Bobcats with 29 receptions in 2006.

Others in the mix: Joel Scipio redshirted last season after transfering from the University of Indianapolis. Three players arrive in the fall to help secure the tailback spot for the Bobcats. Vince Davidson ran for 600 yards and three touchdowns in 2006 at Harmony Community School after finishing his career at South Brunswick High School (N.J.) with 3,300 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns. Donte Harden, a product of Strong Vincent High School in Erie, Pa. carried 374 times for 3,068 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career, while Robert Hightower ran 127 times for 1,539 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2005 at Liberty High School in Youngstown before playing the 2006 season at Milford Academy (N.Y.).

Fullbacks
Mitch Morsillo • Sophomore
Morsillo won the starting job in fall camp and never let it go. A bruising short-yardage back, Morsillo converted seven of eight third-down conversions and also had 12 of his 20 carries go for first downs. He ran the ball a total of 20 times for 60 yards, getting stopped for a loss just once. He also caught four passes for 22 yards.

Jayson White • Junior
White served as the Bobcats' number two tailback last season, playing in 12 games. He did not have a carry, but did catch one pass in 2006.

Others in the mix: Aaron Walser will go through spring drills after redshirting in 2006. Scipio is also being worked at fullback.

Q&A with Running Backs Coach/Offensive Coordinator Tim Albin
What is the number one thing you're trying to do with the running backs this spring?
"We have to establish some depth. Of course, we have Kalvin (McRae) who has taken the majority of the snaps at the running back spot the last two years, and we lost Voncarie Owens, so we have Kalvin and Josh (Abrams) there. Josh hasn't had a lot of reps in games as a running back. He's our best special teams player, so he contributes but in a different way. I think it's important to develop depth there in case we get into an injury situation so we have a guy we can go to. From the fullback spot, we have to find a third fullback with Nate Clemens graduating. I like what Mitch (Morsillo) and Jayson (White) are doing there, but again it's one of those guys go down we'll be in a crunch there. The main focus is developing some depth. We signed several running backs, so in the fall when those guys get here we'll have more guys in the mix."

Does having those two spots so settled in terms of the top of the depth chart change the approach to spring practice in terms of what or how you're teaching?
"Teaching-wise, no. Again we're trying to develop depth so I have Joel Scipio playing both fullback and tailback. He played tailback last year, so I'm working him at both spots. I have Jayson White playing fullback and some tailback."

After putting up big numbers the last two seasons, is there anything that Kalvin can do to have an even better year in 2007?
"I'm going to push Kalvin, but there's nothing I'm going to tell him in the next six or eight months that's going to make him blossom even more. Only Kalvin is going to make Kalvin get better. I'm going to coach him and talk to him, but there's really no sense in getting excited and getting on him about anything. He knows what he needs to do and if he wants to take it to the next level, it'll be up to him. I'm going to push him and I'm going to coach him hard, but there's nothing I'm going to tell him that's anything than the last two years. He knows what he wants to get done and his own personal work habits are going to enable him to take it however far he wants to take it."

With the production that the running game has had, opposing defenses are obviously keyed in to stop the run first. Is there any pressure to come up with some new wrinkles in the running game, or is it just a matter of executing the little things?
"Right now, we have to find a quarterback and develop some depth at the running back spot. We have to get us a quarterback and then go with what best fits our personnel. We need to get our best 11 guys out there and then develop a plan that fits those 11 guys. We were in four wide receivers last fall and lost four seniors at that spot. Now we're having to go with some young guys, so we've cut that back. Again, you have to find your quarterback and find out who you're best 11 are and then attack a defense accordingly."

Kalvin also led the team in receptions last year. Is that involvement in the passing game something you expect to see again?
"Going into the fall, we said that he's obviously our best player on offense so he needs touches. You can't always just hand it off to him. We had a number set at 30 or 35 (catches) and he got 29. He's one of our best 11 and we need to get him touches, so that's where it comes into play."

The annual Green & White game will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 2 p.m. Ohio Athletics and the Ohio Sports Administration program is teaming up to present the second annual Bobcat Blitz which featured a full day of events surrounding the spring game. For more information, log on to www.BobcatBlitz.com.

Ohio Athletics will also hold its biannual merchandise sale at Pepsi Tail-Great Park.

Information about 2007 Ohio football tickets, including the return of the Bobcat Family Pack, can be found by clicking here.

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