It seems like an eternity ago that running back Michael Dyer was named the offensive MVP of Auburn’s 2010 BCS national championship.
While time has not diminished Dyer’s accomplishments -- 2,335 yards and 15 touchdowns during his two seasons at Auburn is still remarkable -- it has certainly diminished his place in the spotlight.
That might not change anytime soon at Louisville.
Dyer, whose long road to Louisville and the baggage he carried there with him has been well-documented, is finally healthy and he finished the spring strong, but his best days could be behind him. Dyer transferred to Louisville from Arkansas Baptist College last season facing expectations that were probably unfairly high, and he never had a chance to meet them because of a sports hernia injury that required surgery in December. Now the battle is no longer his health or off-field scrutiny, it’s the depth chart.
Louisville has a deep stable of running backs, led by returning starter Dominique Brown, a senior who ran for a career-best 825 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He was also one of the top receivers out of the backfield with 24 catches for 228 yards. The Cardinals also have raved about true freshman L.J. Scott, who enrolled in January and has shown the potential to see immediate playing time. Sophomore Brandon Radcliff is another experienced option, who also played on special teams in 2013.
First-year coach Bobby Petrino has said this spring that he wants Brown to get between 20 and 25 snaps per game. Scott is versatile enough that he could be used as a fullback, opening up some carries for Dyer, but it’s unlikely that Dyer overtakes the top spot on the depth chart.
Still, he’s making most of the opportunities he has.
Dyer punctuated the spring with a two-touchdown performance in the spring game and a 21-yard run that set up his own touchdown run. He finished with 150 total yards after playing for both the Red and White teams.
“He looked really quick,” Petrino told reporters after the game. “He was seeing things, he was making good cuts. It was probably the first time we’ve really seen him in the spring 100 percent. I was happy with the way he was seeing it and the quickness, and his ability to break tackles.”
But can he break back into the starting lineup?
“Senior year, you expect a lot of contribution,” running game coordinator Chris Klenakis said. “He’s played a lot of football and has played on a big stage before. You expect those qualities to come out and to play big because he’s already played in big games.”
His biggest competition now, though, is his own roster.