Countdown to Spring Practices – Running Backs

Note … This is the eighth in a series of unit-by-unit spring previews. A new unit has been previewed every few days over the past month, leading to the start of spring practices on March 29th. The last preview – quarterbacks – will be posted Sunday …

Previously posted … 

Related posts … 

The Roster …

— Running backs (6):

bold = returning starter … italicized = walk-on … *= early enrollee (in school for spring practices) … TR … Transfer …

  • Seniors … none
  • Juniors … Alex Fontenot
  • Sophomores … Jarek Broussard … Deion Smith … Joe Davis
  • Red-shirt freshmen … none
  • True freshmen … Ashaad Clayton … Jayle Stacks
  • 2021 Signees … none

The Stats … 

Hard to post impressive stats in a five-game season (CU doesn’t count bowl statistics in year-end numbers), but there are some clues as to how the 2021 season might play out in reviewing the 2020 numbers:

  • Jarek Broussard … 129 carries for 813 yards; three touchdowns; seven catches for 52 yards … Pac-12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year
  • Sam Noyer (QB) … 45 carries for 191; five touchdowns
  • Jaren Mangham … 23 carries for 35 yards; two touchdowns; one catch for 10 yards
  • Joe Davis … 16 carries for 29 yards; one catch for 4 yards
  • Ashaad Clayton … 7 carries for 31 yards; two touchdowns

Nationally … 

  • Red zone offense … .913 (21-of-23; 17 touchdowns; four field goals) … 14th nationally
  • Rushing offense … 212.3 yds./game … 23rd nationally
  • Third down conversion offense … .427 (41-of-96) … 48th nationally
  • Total offense … 413.8 yds./game … 48th nationally
  • Scoring offense … 28.5 pts./game … 63rd nationally
  • Passing offense … 201.5 yds./game … 87th nationally

Comments … Colorado didn’t sign a running back in December, and isn’t expected to add another one before December’s Signing Day. That being said, the running backs room, even with the defection of Jaren Mangham, appears solid. The team’s leading rusher from 2019, Alex Fontenot will battle for playing time with the 2019 Pac-12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year, Jarek Broussard.

A nice problem for running backs coach Darian Hagan to have, no?


Spring, 2021, will certainly be an opportunity for Alex Fontenot to demonstrate he has fully recovered from injuries which have sidelined him since late in the 2019 season. Lest we forget, Fontenot started 11 of the 12 games in 2019, finished the season with 185 rushes for 874 yards and five touchdowns and 27 catches for 122 yards. He won the teams Most Improved Offensive Player Award and was named to the Colorado Chapter of the National Football Foundation All-Colorado second team, recording three 100-yard games on the season.

Also trying to make names for themselves this spring are players who been on the roster for years, but who have fallen off of the radar on the CU depth chart – Deion Smith and Joe Davis. Both are technically only sophomores, but they have been wandering the halls of the Champions Center for some time, with Deion Smith on campus since 2018; Davis since 2019.

Will it be a make-or-break spring for Smith and Davis … we’ll see.

Under less pressure to justify their scholarships, though no less anxious to get on the playing field, are two talented COVID freshmen – Ashaad Clayton and Jayle Stacks. Ashaad Clayton is one of the most highly rated recruits in the past few seasons, but has yet to make a dramatic impact. There were plenty of rumors about Clayton’s future in Boulder in December, when Clayton opted to go home for Christmas rather than accompany the team to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl. Fortunately, Clayton did return for spring classes, and will be on the field for spring practices.

It would be great to watch the practices this spring, to see how the carries are divided among this talented crew, and to see which backs are standing out … but that isn’t going to happen. There will be some reports as to how the backs are doing – there are, after all, three scrimmages this spring in addition to the “Spring Showcase” on April 30th – but we likely won’t know how the running backs roster has shaken out until after spring practices are over.

When classes end in May, and the transfer season begins anew, there may be one or more running backs who enter the transfer portal, seeking playing time elsewhere ….



One Reply to “Countdown to Spring Practices – Running Backs”

  1. Last year we were basically the same team as ’19 w/o Montez (who could be a liability at times, as we all know). All the noise was on the ‘outside’ and I felt good about the squad going into the year (we had solid pieces in place). While others are thankfully feeling ‘better’ about this year, the squad itself I feel has more holes (Johnson, Landman, Rakestraw right up the gut for example). Also to be honest didn’t love HCKD’s comments right after the Alamo Bowl re. talent level on the team (not a good look for any coach), let’s see if his Freshman can make an impact on the field.

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