LSU’s running back room will be strong as John Emery Jr. announced that he was going to be coming back for another year in Baton Rouge. Along with Emery Jr, the frontrunners in the running back group will be Josh Williams, Noah Cain and Armoni Goodwin that broke onto the scene for LSU during the 2022 season. The Tigers will not only be able to bring experience at the position, but youth will be coming in as Brian Kelly was able to load up at the position. LSU brings in two highly-coveted prospects, Trey Holly and Kaleb Jackson. Here is how the running back room is shaping out heading into the 2023 season:
Williams proved that he can step into the starting running back role after a breakout 2022 season. The former walk-on took advantage once Goodwin went down with a hamstring injury during the season. Williams not only is efficient when picking up pivotal third downs, but he is also strong when it comes to blocking opposing defenders.
The Houston native has quickly worked his way from being on the scout team to seeing significant playing tie as part of LSU’s running back rotation. During the 2022 season, Williams had 97 carries for 532 yards and six touchdowns. Williams biggest game of the season came against Arkansas where he had the lone touchdown scored on offense. He finished the game against the Razorbacks with 18 carries for 118 yards.
Williams also made a pivotal play in LSU’s 32-21 win against Alabama as he made a block down the field to open up the field for Jayden Daniels to score a 25-yard touchdown to set up the Tigers to go for a two-point conversion to take down the Crimson Tide.
John Emery Jr.:
Emery Jr. announced shortly after the season that he would be coming back another season to be a crucial part of the running back rotation at LSU. After missing out on the 2021 season, Emery Jr. would have to sit out the first two games of the season as his suspension would rollover into the 2022 season. Emery Jr. has shown his explosiveness in the open field and he has the strength to break through arm tackles.
The Saint Rose, Louisiana native would finish the 2022 season with 76 carries for 375 yards and six touchdowns. There were times during the season where Emery would shown his skills while making defenders miss, especially against Auburn and Alabama.
Emery Jr. slinged off defenders while scoring a 21-yard touchdown that gave LSU the late 21-17 lead over Auburn on the road. Against Alabama, Emery Jr. would be the first Tiger to draw first blood against the Crimson Tide as he hauled in a 30-yard pass from Daniels.
Cain stepped onto the scene heading into the 2022 season after spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Penn State. Cain would make an immediate impact for the Tiger offense in his debut season in Baton Rouge. The veteran running back is a powerful runner that has the ability to help in pass protection and be an effective pass catcher.
During his junior season in 2022, Cain would appear in all 14 games with LSU. Cain rushed for 409 yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 carries. He would be crucial down the stretch as he rushed for a career-high three touchdowns against UAB. Cain would cap off the season against Purdue in the Citrus Bowl as he had 58 yards and two touchdown in the Tigers dominating win over the Boilermakers.
He has an opportunity heading into the 2023 season after a solid end to the year by taking over the reigns of the starting running back position. Cain has been able to remain efficient on third-and-short and when LSU enters the red zone.
It wasn’t an easy season for Goodwin as a hamstring injury and a knee injury would limit his production on the field that opened for the other running backs on the depth chart to gain reps during his absence. When Goodwin was on the field, he was able to show his ability to cut on the dime and when he gets into the open field it is hard to catch him.
Goodwin brings upside to the running back group, but his concern is staying healthy for majority of the season. Injuries would keep him out for most of his freshman season in 2021 as he was dealing with an ankle injury. During the 2022 season, Goodwin had 45 carries for 267 yards and five touchdowns.
He would have two-touchdown games against Southern and New Mexico in 2022. Goodwin’s biggest run came against Mississippi State as the Tigers were able to roar back from an early 10-0 deficit. Goodwin broke off for a 47-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach as LSU would defeat Mississippi State 31-16.
Jackson is one of two highly-touted recruits that is apart of LSU’s incoming recruiting class. The Baton Rouge native was a standout running back at Liberty Magnet and was regarded as Louisiana’s top-rated running back in the Class of 2023.
Jackson would see limited action during his final season at Liberty Magnet due to an injury that he suffered in the season opener. During his junior year in 2021, Jackson rushed for 2,031 yards and 29 touchdowns. He would run for over 100 yards in all 11 games that he appeared in. Along with his explosiveness in the backfield, Jackson added 21 receptions for 394 yards and four touchdowns.
Along with Jackson, Holly is one of the most anticipated recruits to ever come out of the state of Louisiana. The Farmerville, Louisiana native was a five-year starter at Union High School. Holly broke the state’s all-time rushing record with 10,523 yards during his career in high school.
He capped of his high school career with 2,694 yards and 38 touchdowns leading Union to the state championship game in 2022. As a junior, Holly rushed for 2,633 yards and 33 touchdowns. Holly would score 160 touchdowns during his prep career with 146 coming on the ground.
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