I continue my breakdown of each position group today with running back.
Ladarius Perkins (SR)
When you consider all the jobs of a back (rushing, receiving, and blocking), there is zero doubt that Perkins is MSU’s best, most complete back. In his first year as the feature back, Perkins ran for 1,024 yards and 8 TD’s. He also caught 19 balls for 164 yards and 2 more scores. Perkins is an all around threat that make big plays in both the rushing and receiving games.
Derrick Milton (soph)
As a RS freshman Milton got his first taste of action last year. He gained 165 yards and scored twice in limited duty. This spring he saw the most reps with injuries bothering the other backs. He used the opportunity show what he can do. At 6’2 215 and 4.4 speed he really has the tools to succeed. He is more of a slasher type runner and is very smooth coming out of the backfield as a receiver. The things he needs to work on are ball security and pass blocking.
Josh Robinson (soph)
Another guy that saw his first action as a RS freshman. Last year he gained 335 yards with 1 score. He was last years 2nd leading rusher. At 5’9 215, Robinson runs like a battering ram. He’s got really good speed and hits the hole harder than any back on the roster. He showed up for the spring better conditioned and that looks to have helped his lateral movement. Robinson posses the tenacity to make a strong run at the starting position should Perkins falter. The things he needs to improve on are passing blocking and receiving out of the backfield.
Nick Griffin (JR)
First thing I want to say is that I hate having him at #3. The guy has all the talent and work ethic you could ever want. Injuries just continue to plague Griffin. Last year he was finally showing signs of being 100% from his last ACL injury and then another occurred (other leg). A healthy Griffin has all the tools to be an every down back. At 6’1 230, he is the most physically gifted of the bunch. He has great speed for a player his size. He also catches and pass blocks well. The only thing he needs to work on is staying positive.
Ashton Shumpert (true freshman)
Highly heralded 4 star 2013 signee that has the talent to earn some reps. The question is if MSU has the reps to give him this year. Shumpert isa powerful slasher type with good speed (4.5 range). At 6’1 220 he is already in the mold of an SEC back. I wouldn’t be surprised if he redshirted but he may be too good of a talent to keep off the field, particularly special teams.
Although Perkins is the no doubt starter, I expect Mullen to spread out the load much more with Robinson and Milton getting more carries. The LSU/Bama RB usage model if you will. Robinson and Milton are a dead heat for the #2 spot. Griffin is such a wildcard. A 100% healthy Griffin could be MSU’s best back. Mullen will just have to wait and see how his recovery is going physically and perhaps most importantly, mentally. In most years, Shumpert gets carries. I’m not sure he will this year but he could be a major player on special team coverage units.