Returning: Senior Marcus Allen, freshman KirVonte Benson, sophomore C.J. Leggett, sophomore Marcus Marshall, freshman Quaide Weimerskirch.
Lost: Patrick Skov.
Early enrollee: Freshman Dedrick Mills
Marshall starts out in the lead for this group after pushing his way onto the field in his first-year freshman season last fall. Marshall ended up playing in 11 games, starting three times, and led the team with 654 rushing yards. He was the first freshman to lead Tech in rushing yards since Joe Burns in 1998. He showed speed and home-run pop – he scored four touchdowns, and eight of his 86 carries covered 20 yards or more – but will be expected to develop at blocking and ball security in the spring.
Allen gained 166 yards on 35 carries in the first significant game action of his career. You’ll remember he was rushed into the position at the end of last spring following injuries to Leggett and Weimerskirch. Marshall and Allen will be pushed by a group of four players who have yet to take a college snap but have shown promise in practice.
“I’m really excited for Marcus Marshall and C.J. Leggett,” former quarterback Tim Byerly said. “I think those guys can really, really take it up a notch, and they’re both incredibly fast. I think it’s probably a matter of putting the whole package together.”
Byerly describes Leggett as agile but “he’s not afraid to put his head down.” Weimerskirch can likely play at either A-back or B-back. He enrolled early a year ago and, after suffering a foot injury at the end of camp, came close to being ready in the fall, but ended up playing on scout team. Byerly said that Benson, who came to Tech after tearing his ACL at the end of his high-school season at Marietta High in 2014, is extremely strong “with not an ounce of fat on him.” He is listed at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, although coach Paul Johnson said last week that he is at 205 pounds, describing him as a jitterbug.
“I just think he’s pretty dynamic,” Johnson said of Benson.
Mills, too, is intriguing, enrolling early as a high-profile recruit. “He’s looked good in (offseason workouts),” Johnson said.
Johnson on what Marshall has to do in the spring: “I think just continue to grow. He had his moments. He’s got to block better and he needs to take care of the ball. It’s been a little bit of an issue. Just mature, and I think the competition will push him. He got thrown in there (last season) just kind of by necessity.”