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Position Preview: Running Backs

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The deepest group on FSU’s offense

Don Juan Moore

As we approach the start of the 2021 football season, Tomahawk Nation is breaking down each position group on the Florida State Seminoles football team. First up, running backs.

If there was one thing that worked for Florida State in 2020, it was running the ball.

With a deep stable of rushers and a talented signal-caller who is also light on his feet, Mike Norvell continued his reputation for getting the most out of his backs with five different players putting up over 300 yards on the ground.

Here’s a rundown on who is returning and what the outlook for FSU is.

Returning

Jashaun Corbin

After transferring from Texas A&M, Corbin assumed the bulk of ball-carrying duties during Mike Norvell’s first season in Tallahassee, putting up 401 yards and five touchdowns over the course of the year to lead the team (outside of quarterback Jordan Travis) in rushing. Not only was his number called 50 more times than the next entry on this list, he also was tasked with running the Wildcat late in the season. Norvell’s teams are running back by committee, and Corbin figures to be a key member of the panel

Lawrance Toafili

The Saint Petersburg product had a productive freshman season, racking up 301 yards and two scores in a mostly contributing role. With second-leading rusher La’Damian Webb now gone from the program, Toafili will look to elevate his game and presence within the running back rotation in 2021.

Deonte Sheffield

The senior-most member of the Florida State running back group, Sheffield provides a steady hand and presence in a locker room that is by and large young.

Treshaun Ward, Corey Wren

Both Wren and Ward have almost achieved mythical status, with the latter the only one of the pair to receive in-game carries (two). While both talented, they’ve had trouble finding a spot on the field to contribute, something that may lead to scheme changes on Norvell and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham’s part to take advantage of their athletic ability.

Newcomers

D.J. Williams

Williams sits as the lone new back in 2021, with the Seminoles not signing a rusher as part of its 2021 signing class. An Auburn transfer, Williams registered 599 yards and five touchdowns over the course of two seasons. Built as more of a third-down back, Williams will look to step into the bruiser rusher role in a similar vein to former Seminole Jacques Patrick.

Projection

The strength of the Florida State offense last season, the running back room figures to once again be the deepest position group on that side of the ball. Add in Jordan Travis (or McKenzie Milton, if his rushing talent remains the same) and the constant rotation and personnel choices could present many an issue for other teams. The team put up about 1,800 yards on the ground last season alongside 19 touchdowns — if the team continues on an upward trajectory, especially in the trenches, 2200 yards and 22 touchdowns would be an achievable goal.