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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Running Backs Preview

Plenty of NFL talent throughout the conference

New Mexico v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Recruiting season is nearly behind us, and spring football is just weeks away. We are going to spend the next couple months previewing position units in the Mountain West. Please remember that with the extra COVID year there is some uncertainty on each roster heading into spring football. With that being said, let’s take a look at how each team currently sits at the running back position.

The Good

Boise State

George Holani is the best back in the conference when he is healthy. The Bronco rushing attack looked completely different when he was in the lineup. The Broncos will also have an electric backup in true freshman Ashton Jeanty. Jeanty will likely getting meaningful snaps early in the season. Tyler Crowe will fill the role of Andrew Van Buren and be used in short yardage situations.

Fresno State

Jordan Mims was the best running back on the roster at the end of the season, and he is back. The Bulldogs have also done a great job recruiting the position the last few years. Jordan Wilmore and Jordan Hornbeak should be competing for snaps and be capable backups to Mims.


Losing Valladay is a big hit, but Titus Swen was the better back at the end of the year. There are some questions about reliable depth behind Swen, but the Cowboys should be effective running the ball behind their solid offensive line.

San Diego State

The Aztecs have the deepest running back room in the conference and it is about to get even deeper with the addition of two elite recruits. Bell and Byrd will probably shoulder most of the load, but there are some capable backups if either one of them goes down with an injury.

Utah State

I’m not completely sold on the running back room for the Aggies. I like Calvin Tyler Jr. But I think he needs to take another step forward, before being considered one of the top backs in the conference. Building depth behind Tyler Jr. will be a priority for the Aggies this offseason.

Air Force

All-conference back Brad Roberts returns, and you know quarterback Haaziq Daniels will put up big numbers on the ground. Putting the Falcons in the “Good” category is an afterthought. You know they are always going to put up elite numbers on the ground. This season will be no exception, as Roberts will be one of the best backs in the conference.

The Bad

New Mexico

For a team that wants to play smash mouth football, you would expect better rushing statistics from the Lobos. Losing their best running back Aaron Dumas to the transfer portal was a big hit. The Lobos are going to be on a search for help at the running back position.

Colorado State

A’Jon Vivens and Nevada transfer Avery Morrow will likely be competing for the majority of the snaps. Jay Norvell struggled to produce solid rushing attacks while he was the head coach at Nevada; I don’t think things will be much different in Fort Collins. This team will air it out and put up mediocre numbers on the ground.

The Ugly

San Jose State

The Spartans struggled to run the ball last season and relied heavily on the legs of backup quarterback Nick Nash. Hawaii transfer quarterback Chevan Cordeiro should help the Spartan rushing attack with his ability to escape the pocket and break off huge runs, but the Spartans don’t appear to have an answer at running back. Will a new name emerge?


The Rainbow Warriors lost Dae Dae Hunter to Liberty and have a depleted running back room heading into spring ball. You have to think that new coach Timmy Chang will have a close eye on the transfer portal in hopes of finding a back or two that can carry the load.


For a good football team, the Wolf Pack had an awful rushing attack in 2021. Devonte Lee and Toa Taua are the most experienced running backs on the roster. Both are bruisers. I don’t think the Wolf Pack have a back on their roster that is capable of breaking out big runs on a consistent basis.


Charles Williams is finally gone and he leaves big shoes to fill. The Rebel rushing attack was inconsistent at best in 2021 and will look for a new tailback to carry the load. The Rebels don’t have another running back on their roster that rushed for 100 yards last season.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” What are your thoughts on the running back position heading into the 2022 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.