The Times Free Press is taking a daily positional look at the 2017 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team, leading up to the first practice on July 24.
Today we look at the running back position:
Richardre Bagley rushed for 593 yards and five touchdowns while adding 177 yards and four scores receiving as the Mocs' primary backup last season. He was at his best with 315 yards and four scores in wins over Virginia Military Institute and Western Carolina, starting in place of injured Derrick Craine. Bagley will find his way onto the field, as could junior Alex Trotter, who put on 30 pounds during the offseason. Sophomore walk-on Chris Miller totaled 89 yards and scored his first touchdown in the 2016 season-opening win over Shorter.
The Mocs already had signed their running back of the future in 6-foot, 210-pound Chris Broadwater but received an additional bit of depth when former Ridgeland standout and Presbyterian all-conference back Darrell Bridges announced he would come to UTC for a graduate transfer season. Bridges rushed for 2,182 yards and 12 touchdowns during his Blue Hose career and will battle for a starting spot. With the change to a pro-style offense, Torrez Finney - a scout-team linebacker last season - positioned himself to be the starter at fullback coming off a strong spring. The former state champion wrestler has shown promise as a lead blocker as well a change-of-pace runner. Broadwater rushed for 1,197 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior season at Tucker High School in Georgia, helping the Tigers to the Class AAAA state-title game in 2016.
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- VMI plans to lean more toward running this year
- Defense puts the heat on offense in UTC's opening practice [photos]
- Quarterback 'Duck' expects more balance in Samford offense
- Five questions for the Mocs as preseason practice starts
- Mocs lack experience on special teams
- Mercer confident about new season
- Key for UTC linebackers is their adjustment to 3-4 scheme
- Cleveland's Austin Herink clear leader for 'more mature' ETSU team
- Strong defensive line still a UTC trademark
- The Citadel keeping expectations high despite key losses
- UTC to offer VIP tents for fans at Finley Stadium
- UTC offensive line must gain experience
- Mocs picked fourth with league-high 10 preseason All-SoCon players
- Commissioner John Iamarino sees 'quality,' healthy parity in SoCon football
- Mocs have mixture of experience, transfers, youth at receiver
- UTC football picked fourth in SoCon preseason poll
- Richardre Bagley, Darrell Bridges experienced running backs for Mocs
- UTC not likely to be picked No. 1 again today
- UTC quarterback Alejandro Bennifield solid, but questions loom behind starter
On a team that is talented everywhere yet inexperienced in a lot of places, the Mocs have two running backs - Bagley and Bridges - with considerable experience at the college level. They should complement each other, with Bridges capable of getting a lot of carries and yards from handoffs while Bagley is able to gain yards either out of the backfield or being flanked out wide. Plus the 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior's ascension to one of the leaders on the team during spring meetings will be helpful going forward.
It's a new offense, adjusting from the spread that's become a staple of college football to a pro-style look under a new coaching staff, which means different responsibilities for the backs. The only experience the backs have in the system is from the spring, and Bridges was still at Presbyterian. He and Bagley could become a potent 1-2 combination, but it may not be an immediate impact.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.