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LSU 2022 Position Preview: Running Backs

A crowded but talented room

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / via Imagn Content Services, LLC

For the first time in what I can remember the Fightin’ Tigers of LSU were pretty underwhelming running the football in 2021.

Now to be fair Ty Davis-Price did cross the 1,000 yard mark and set the LSU/SEC single game rushing record with 287 against Florida; that game alone vaulted TDP into a third round, top-100 overall selection by the 49ers in this past NFL Draft.

But take away Davis-Price’s historical game and his season is far less impressive. Nearly 30 percent of his rushing yards came in that one afternoon against the Gators, and if you exclude the Florida game you’re looking at 11 games for 717 yards which comes out to a mere 65 yards a game.

This isn’t to put the blame at Davis-Price’s feet, after all a running back can only do so much with an offensive line that was certainly a weak spot last season. And yet despite that, LSU still had three guys (Ed Ingram, Chasen Hines, Austin Deculus) all get drafted.

Hopefully in 2022 LSU’s rushing attack returns to what it normally is historically. And I like their chances with Brian Kelly who’s known for putting offensive linemen into the NFL, year two under Brad Davis, and LSU adding two senior Louisiana natives running backs—John Emery and incoming transfer Noah Cain— looking to cap off their collegiate careers the right way.

2022 LSU Running Backs

Player Height/Weight Carries Yards Yards/Carry Touchdowns Long Miscellaneous
Player Height/Weight Carries Yards Yards/Carry Touchdowns Long Miscellaneous
4 John Emery (Sr.)* 5'11"/220
21 Noah Cain (Sr.)** 5'11"/225 104 334 3.2 4 34 19 catches/114 yards
22 Armoni Goodwin (Soph.) 5'8"/198 16 65 4.1 0 16 6 games played, 0 starts; 2 catches, 15 yards
26 Tre Bradford (Jr.)*** 6'0"/210 2 11 5.5 0 6 1 game played, 0 starts
27 Josh Williams (Jr.) 5'9"/208 23 107 4.6 0 24 13 games played, 0 starts; 5 catches 11 yards

*Academically ineligible in 2021

**At Penn State

***Transferred back from Oklahoma in September

John Emery is back for his senior season after being deemed academically ineligible for the season literally days before the UCLA game. I think it’s a huge testament to Emery’s character that he’s back for his senior year, he could have easily used the time off to get ready for the 2022 NFL Draft or declared once it was announced Ed Orgeron and Kevin Faulk wouldn’t be back. But Emery’s staying for last run and hopefully this season will be the year we finally see him live up to that five-star status coming out of Destrehan.

Competing for carries will be fellow Louisiana native and Penn State transfer Noah Cain. Cain’s had an up and down college career. He set a rushing touchdown record for freshman running backs in 2019 with eight and racked up 443 yards. But his sophomore season was cut short after just three carries before Cain was lost for the entire 2020 season with an ACL injury. Cain came back in 2021 and wasn’t quite the same but still managed 322 yards and four scores.

The next two veteran backs behind Cain and Emery would be former walk-on turned scholarship back Josh Williams and Tre Bradford who has had one of the weirder careers I can remember. Bradford was with LSU in 2020, transferred to Oklahoma in the spring of 2021...only to transfer back to LSU in September. Bradford wouldn’t take the field until the regular season finale against Texas A&M. Williams is the type of guy every program needs, especially one like LSU that’s needed a cultural reset, and has gotten some run over his four years here. He even got seven carries against Kansas State in the Texas Bowl.

Goodwin flashed his breakaway speed in moments but spent most of 2021 on the sideline due to injury. A shoulder injury cost Goodwin the UCLA game and then an ankle sprain in the Kentucky game caused him to miss about a month. Goodwin returned for the Alabama and Arkansas games but only got a combined five carries in the two.