One of the goals for Southern Miss this spring was to figure out its running back situation.
With top rushers Damion Fletcher and Tory Harrison lost to graduation, the Golden Eagles were looking for one of its four running backs -- V.J. Floyd, Tracey Lampley, Desmond Johnson and Kendrick Hardy -- to fill the void.
While Southern Miss is only through seven of its 15 practices, culminating in the April 10 spring game, the running backs are trying to make their presence known.
After a live scrimmage during the second half of Wednesday’s practice, coach Larry Fedora praised his running backs, which combined for 128 yards and five touchdowns (several during the goal-line drills) during the short scrimmage time.
Fedora was especially impressed with Hardy, a highly-touted redshirt freshman, who has a lot of talent, but has been described by the coaching staff as “raw.” Hardy had 10 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
“They have all made some plays,” Fedora said of the running back corps. “Kendrick Hardy really made some nice plays [today], ran really hard and broke some tackles while showing some glimpses that he can be a really good football player for us.”
Floyd, who had four rushes for 8 yards in the scrimmage, came into the spring as the top running back mostly because of experience. Lampley, who had five rushes for 43 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown, also played last season and was considered the top challenger for the starting role. Johnson, who had 15 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, played sparingly last year, but struggled with consistency.
Of the four, Hardy is the biggest back and has some of the greatest potential. If he can consistently play like he did Wednesday, he could find himself a regular in what is shaping to be a running-back-by-committee approach.
The Golden Eagles still have eight practices remaining and a depth chart likely won’t be released until after the spring game.