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LSU Football 2023 Position Preview: Running Backs

In a crowded running back room, can anyone emerge as the go-to back?

LSU v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

In 2022 the LSU rushing attack was The Jayden Daniels Show.

Daniels led the Tigers in attempts (186), yards (885), yards per game, and touchdowns (11). Jayden Daniels is, according to my sources, a quarterback. At least he moves like Mike Vick circa 2004.

As for the young men who are running backs they were...fine. Josh Williams endeared himself to all LSU fans with his toughness, Noah Cain had maybe the quietest 10-touchdown season I can ever remember, and John Emery continued to show off his tantalizing ability in spurts, but still leaves us waiting for him to put all the pieces together.

It’s a deep, talented running back room. Hopefully in 2023 someone steps up so that Jayden Daniels’s legs is a bonus, not the base of the rushing attack.

2023 LSU Running Backs

Player Height/Weight Carries Yards Yards Per Carry Touchdowns Miscellaneous
Player Height/Weight Carries Yards Yards Per Carry Touchdowns Miscellaneous
3 Logan Diggs* (Jr.) 6'0"/216 165 822 5 4 10 receptions, 211 yards, 2 TDs
4 John Emery (5th Year Sr.) 5'10"/220 76 375 4.9 6 13 receptions, 129 yards, 2 TDs
21 Noah Cain (Sr.) 5/10"/220 76 409 5.4 10 9 receptions, 76 yards
22 Armoni Goodwin (Jr.) 5'8"/200 45 267 5.9 5 Limited to 7 games
25 Trey Holly (Fr.) 5'7"/191 Four-star freshman
26 Kaleb Jackson (Fr.) 6'0"/200 Four-star freshman
27 Josh Williams (Grad) 5'9"/205 97 532 5.5 6 21 receptions, 132 yards
32 Tre Bradford (Rs. Soph)** 6'0"/195 N/A

*At Notre Dame

** Did Not Play Football in 2022

In an attempt to beef up the running back room, Brian Kelly dipped into the transfer portal and brought back a familiar face: Logan Diggs, who played for Kelly at Notre Dame. Diggs is a New Orleans native, prepping at Archbishop Rummel and might already be the top running back on the depth chart. Diggs’s 822 yards would have been the most among LSU running backs and only 60 behind Jayden Daniels total. Diggs was a guy the previous regime got in too late on and Kelly was able to steal him away, but now he’s back home and if I had to bet on it he’ll be the first running back on the field when LSU opens up against Florida State.

Speaking of betting, I’m betting everything I have on Josh Williams being this year’s No. 18. He’s got all the traits of an 18 and the way he runs reminds me of Jacob Hester. Williams is listed at 5’9” and 205 pounds, but there’s not a single guy I’d trust more to get me three yards on a crucial 3rd-and-2 gotta have it moment than him.

Second on my list of short yardage specialists is Noah Cain. At 220, Cain’s got that bulldozer build you’d want from a back, and he was second on the team in rushing touchdowns with 10 last season.

I think I’ve said the phrase “is this the year John Emery puts it all together” for about four years now and I’m still holding out hope. The former five-star is LSU’s most talented running back on the roster but he just hasn’t been able to harness it. Emery reportedly is good to go academics wise, hopefully him being good off the field translates to excellence on the field.

Armoni Goodwin is back for a third year in Baton Rouge and hopefully third time is the charm from a health perspective. Goodwin has been hampered by injuries in each of his first two seasons on campus, and has only appeared in 13 games total. When he’s on the field, he can really hit the second level like nobody else as the former track star has speed for days.

While LSU’s got a deep running back room now, there’s a chance it thins out quickly. Williams and Emery are out of eligibility after this season. Diggs, Cain, and Goodwin all could declare for the draft at season’s end. Heck even Tre Bradford, who is back at LSU for a third time, is draft eligible after this season ends. While I don’t expect all four of Diggs/Cain/Goodwin/Bradford to declare, its worth keeping an eye on the future. Enter true freshmen Kaleb Jackson and Trey Holly.

Holly comes to LSU after setting the state of Louisiana high school rushing record with 10,523 yards and 160 touchdowns. Jackson is working his way back from an injury that ended his senior year in the season opener, but as a junior he ran for 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.