Starters: Lorenzo Booker (HB, Sr.), Joe Surratt (FB, So.)
Top Reserves: Antone Smith (HB, So.), Jamaal Edwards (HB, So.), Matt Dunham (FB, Fr.)
Best of the Rest: Russell Ball (HB), Marcus Sims (RB), Seddrick Holloway (FB)
Overall: Outside of the offensive line there isn't a group with more pressure and higher expectations. After the Seminoles attempted over 40 passes a game last season, the emphasis on running the ball more and running the ball more effectively was a goal throughout the spring. Antone Smith was so impressive in spring workouts he was named the most outstanding performer of the training period. The ground attack in the spring also meant that the FSU coaches were serious about establishing an effort on the ground. Last year many fans (me included) weren't sure of the coaches couldn't run or if they had just become too reliant on the passing game. In the end I think it was a little bit of both. The good news is the talent pool at the position is deep and diverse in terms of talent. Each running back brings a little something different to the table:
More after the jump
Lorenzo Booker: Booker is adapt in the running and passing game. He's got quickness but not track speed. He is in great condition and can easily handle a 20-25 carry load. My main issue with Booker is that he doesn't run with power and tends to juke WAY too much, especially when he could just shoot though the hole.
Joe Surratt: Surratt will primarly be a blocking a very short-yardage fullback. He has dropped a considerable amount of weight in hopes of getting more involved in the offense, but I think the coaches view Dunham as a more potent offensive threat at the position.
Antone Smith: Everyone is in love with Smith and I'm shocked he isn't getting more support in the poll because many of the message boards think he should be starting over Booker. Personally I think Smith might be a record-setting back here, but I thought his freshman year was a major waste of time. As it is Smith is the perfect back, he can run, he can run fast, he can with with power, he's agile and he's durable. That's a potential five-tool back.
Jamaal Edwards: This guy is the wild card IMO. After redshirting to take care of some nagging injuries Edwards has the chance to really step up as a viable option should something happen to Booker or Smith. Edwards is a little bigger (6-0, 215 pounds) and provides a nice change of pace.
Matt Dunham: Many FSU fans have been yearning for a William Floyd clone (we had one until Torrance Washington got hurt) and Dunham provides the best of all worlds. After bulking up to 245 pounds, Dunham is expected to be used as an H-Back in the offense playing a hybrid position that includes formations at fullback and tight end.
Best of the Rest: Ball is out for the season after tearing his ACL during the spring. It appears that Holloway is a candidate for a redshirt. As for Sims, he is adamant about playing this year, even though he knows it will mostly be on special teams. Once he gets the ball he could be a very productive "big back" over time.
2006 Prospectus: I believe FSU coaches gave up on the run unnecessarily last year. I also disagree with the sentiment that "pass blocking" was easier for the line. They didn't do that well either. Running the ball isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to keep the defense honest and doing it 15 times a game isn't the way to improve the running game. The offensive line is still a work in progress, but they are good enough to put a hat on a hat and allow these talented running backs enough room to make plays. This season it's crucial to establish a consistent running attack that can keep defenses honest and set up the vertical passing game.