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Forget Tommy DeVito, Let’s Talk Running Backs

Moe Neal has been waiting four years for this moment. With Dontae Strickland graduated, Neal’s the veteran of Syracuse’s running backs. And maybe he expects to be the bell cow. But with all the rushing talent SU has, it would be a waste to rely on just one or two guys. So let’s examine what each RB excels at, as well as what their weakness is.

Moe Neal – Senior

Neal actually led SU running backs in attempts, yards, and average yards per carry last season. He has a great burst and when he finds a gap, few defenders have the speed to catch up to him. Even though he’s small, he’s more than capable of running between the tackles. When he does this, he’s great at getting a full head of steam and being very tough for defenders to take down. Although, if he sees an opportunity to cut outside, he’ll take advantage.

Neal is also the best receiver among the running backs. Neal often slips out for a pass in the flat, but he has also shown that he is a solid route runner. Last year against Clemson, Neal broke free from his defender for a 15 yard pickup inside Clemson’s redzone as Eric Dungey was chased by Clemson’s vaunted front four. He’ll have plays like that again this season when Tommy DeVito is in trouble.

The biggest issue for Neal is his size. He’s done a great job of putting on weight since arriving to SU, adding about 30 pounds. But at 191 pounds, he’s still undersized for a bell cow running back. For comparison, Jarveon Howard is 210 pounds.

Jarveon Howard – Sophomore

Speaking of Howard, he’s in line for an increased role this season. Last season Howard often served as a goal-line back, and led the Orange running backs with seven touchdowns. Right now, he’s more of a straight line runner that likes to get downhill and is an absolute load to bring down. That complements well with Neal who’s more an elusive cutter, who knifes through defenses. So while Howard brings the power, Neal brings the finesse.

Howard isn’t the pass-catching back that Neal is, but that’s not what SU is asking him to do. He’ll likely be used as a short distance back again this season. But he’ll likely be used to fill Dontae Strickland’s role from last season.

Abdul Adams – Junior

Adams plowed in for a couple of touchdowns against West Virginia after redshirting the rest of the season. He spent his first couple of years at Oklahoma before transferring. He has fantastic vision at all levels, after he breaks through a hole, he’s great at navigating past oncoming linebackers and safeties. Just like Neal, Adams can go out and catch passes, which Lincoln Riley had him do at Oklahoma. While we haven’t seen much of him at Syracuse, here’s some of his tape as a Sooner.

Jawhar Jordan – Freshman

Jordan was supposed to sign with the Orange in the 2018 recruiting class, but academics delayed his admission until 2019 signing day. He’ll likely get some touches this year but won’t be a focal point due to the depth of the rushing attack. He’s also an all purpose back and is a quick elusive RB. He’s only 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds so he’ll be used as a change-of-pace back which could work very well in Babers’ offense. He’s also a dynamic special teams player who’s a game changer with the ball in his hands.

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