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

Who will be the next great running back in the Mountain West?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 17 Frisco Bowl Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A few weeks ago we began previewing position groups with the quarterback position. This week, we are going to turn our focus to the running back position. Some teams had major turnover at running back, but it still looks like it will be one of the most talented position groups in the Mountain West. With that being said, let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly of the running back position for each team in the Mountain West.

The Good

Boise State

This is the best running back room the Broncos have had since Doug Martin, Jeremy Avery, and DJ Harper shared carries. This group should be special. George Holani and Ashton Jeanty could both make a strong case for best running back in the conference and they have Jambres Dubar coming in. Dubar was a highly sought after recruit coming out of Texas. If the offensive line can find its footing, this group should put up special numbers.

Air Force

The Falcons lost a ton of production with Brad Roberts, who was their every down back last year. But the return of John Lee Eldridge III is huge. We know Troy Calhoun and his staff will build a solid rotation of running backs and fullbacks that will get the job done.


This team may not have a star running back on the roster, but they do have depth and talent. The Cowboys were hit hard with injuries at running back last season, but their “next man up” mentality showed the heart and determination this team has. I think DQ James will be a special back and could put up some big numbers this fall.

Fresno State

With the departure of Jordan Mims, the Bulldogs have a lot of production they will need to replace at the running back position. Malik Sherrod will likely assume the role of RB1, but this program has done a phenomenal job of recruiting running backs and has plenty of talented players looking to earn carries.

San Diego State

This isn’t the experienced Aztec rushing group that we are accustomed to seeing, but they do have a bunch of young backs that should be fighting for carries. I expect USC transfer Kenan Christon to have a bigger role this year. Jaylon Armstead should also play a big role in helping this rushing attack this fall.

The Bad

San Jose State

The Spartans will need an improved rushing attack if they are going to contend for the conference championship in 2023. They do have Kairee Robinson returning for his final year of eligibility. Robinson had a solid 2022 season, but is he the elite back that can take the Spartan rushing attack to the next level? I don’t think so.

New Mexico

If you aren’t a Lobo fan, you would probably have a hard time naming any of the running backs they have on their roster (and they have a lot). Each year, this staff seems to do a decent job of developing a young running back that they end up losing to the transfer portal. There is some talent in the running back room, but it is hard to see this group doing anything special this fall.

The Ugly


After losing longtime starter Toa Taua, the Wolf Pack will be looking for a new running back. This team struggled mightily on offense in 2023, and it is hard to see much optimism with this current group of running backs.


There really isn’t a lot of experience at the running back position for the Rainbow Warriors. We do know that the coaching staff plans on running more of a traditional Air Raid Offense in 2023, and if that is the case, the running backs will be used more in the passing game with rushing numbers being limited.

Utah State

The Aggies lost their most dependable back in Calvin Tyler Jr. Where they go from here is uncertain. Jordan Wilmore was a highly sought after recruit coming out of high school but is now with his third program. Can he finally live up to the hype in Logan? There are lots of questions and not many answers around the running back position for the Aggies at this point.

Colorado State

I don’t have much faith in Jay Norvell’s ability to use running backs, and if we are being honest, there isn’t a lot to be excited about outside of Avery Morrow. Morrow has shown some ability to be a dependable back, but he is nowhere near the top of the conference.


The Rebels current roster only has two running backs listed. Losing a thousand yard rusher like Aidan Robbins to the transfer portal has to sting. This coaching staff will likely be looking to the transfer portal to fill some holes. I think Rebel fans could be in for a rough 2023 season if they can’t find a productive running back to take some of the load off of their talented quarterback, Doug Brumfield.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Who do you think has the best running backs in the Mountain West? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.