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2021 UCF Football Position Preview - Running Backs

The Knights have to replace some big stars

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama
UCF RB Mark-Antony Richards
Mickey Welsh-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 football season is right around the corner for the UCF Knights. It’s a new era with head coach Gus Malzahn running the show, With a new season comes new expectations. Today, we’re going to look at the running backs.

While the running backs lost outstanding running backs Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson, This one wasn’t supposed to be this complicated.

Two weeks ago, it looked pretty simple. Bentavious Thompson was looking to be the probable primary back heading into the fall. A week later, Thompson was no longer part of the team. Great. That begs the question...

So, who is the guy?

While the answer to this isn’t a given, the initial thought is towards redshirt sophomore Marc-Antony Richards, a transfer from Auburn, who followed Gus Malzahn to UCF. His advantage comes from his prior work with Malzahn. Richards only has 20 career carries for 76 yards. That’s it. That makes him the third most experienced back at UCF behind Isaiah Bowser and Trillion Coles.

Bowser, a senior transfer from Northwestern, at 6-1 and 215 pounds, gives the Knights the bruiser back they have been lacking since Taj McGowan graduated. Coles, a redshirt junior, missed last year due to an achilles injury. Bowser figures to be an important factor to the running game, especially in short yardage or goal line situations. Coles has an uphill battle ahead of him with players like speedster Johnny Richardson and Damarius Good there as well. Richardson might be the biggest benefactor of Thompson no longer being on the roster.

With depth comes wildcards

Edit: R.J. Harvey suffered a season ending knee injury and will not play in 2021.

A guy to keep an eye throughout camp and into the season on is R.J. Harvey, Harvey was a quarterback at Virginia before transferring to UCF ahead of the 2020 season. The redshirt sophomore saw some action on special teams and even got a few carries in there. At the spring game, Harvey was a star with the ball, showing a combination of strength, speed, and the ability to hit. Don’t be fooled by his 5-8 195-pound frame. He ran like he was six feet tall and hit like he was over 200 pounds. Harvey’s biggest issue is confidence in his running and general experience at the position. It showed at the spring game as he started slow and got better as he kept playing. Harvey has only been a running back for one full season, so he still needs some seasoning. While such depth in the running back stable, UCF can take their time cultivating Harvey’s skills.

NCAA Football: Central Florida Spring Game
UCF RB RJ Harvey
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports