Spring Report Card: Running Backs
Coming into the spring, Clemson’s talent at running back was known across the southeast. James Davis and Reggie Merriweather were returning after combining for six 100-yard performances in 2005. The question was how would Davis respond after a big freshman season, and how would Merriweather react to Clemson signing a high-profile running back two years in a row?
Running backs coach Burton Burns received his answer, and both players met expectations. Davis did not look like a player, who has any intentions of a sophomore slump. Last season, the true freshman did not shy away from asking for the football. It was not out of selfishness, he asked for the ball, but it was a strong desire to win. Davis specifically asked for the ball at halftime of the South Carolina, and the rest is history.
This spring Davis came in as the clear starter. His work ethic has not dropped off at all. He shows up everyday, and he continues to work with Burns towards his goal. Competition is welcomed by Davis, as he learned a great deal from Duane Coleman and Merriweather last season. Davis was instrumental in Clemson landing incoming freshman CJ Spiller.
Merriweather proved he understands that he has to play with a sense of urgency. Many believe Spiller will come in and compete with Merriweather immediately, but one has to believe #37 has a role on this team. He has a kept a positive attitude, and he was vintage Merriweather this spring. Competition is very healthy for Merriweather.
Demerick Chancellor was the surprise of the spring at running back. By looking at Chancellor’s tall slendor frame, it is easy to say that he is too tall and too thin to be a running back. When he was moved to safety last season, we felt there was a chance Chancellor’s days at running back were behind him.
He spent last season as the scout team running back and did not get a lot of work with Burns. This spring you could see Burns’ impact on Chancellor. He had gone from a speed back, which went down on first contact, to a player who showcased a strong leg drive. In the Orange and White game, Chancellor kept his legs moving and showed some positive signs. His future may not be this year, but he certainly showed he is capable of being a factor in the backfield.
Paul Macko is solid as a rock. For a walk-on, you could not ask for much more. He gives it his all every play. Macko could be a starter at some D-1 schools, but in Clemson’s backfield, he is fourth with a move down to fifth coming in July.
Overall, this group did not disappoint. Davis and Merriweather met expectations, and Chancellor performed at a high level.