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2022 UCF Football Position Preview: Running Backs

How does a stacked group get even better? Challenge accepted.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Louisville
RB Isaiah Bowser leads a stacked running back stable
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

What do you do with the most stacked offensive unit on the UCF Knights football team? Make it better, duh.

After averaging 196.8 yards per game, the Knights return a sliver under 100% of their running back output from 2021. Not only do they return 700+ yard rushers Isaiah Bowser and Johnny Richardson, the Knights managed to improve their stable of running backs.

Let’s start at the top.

Isaiah Bowser - Senior

NCAA Football: Gasparilla Bowl-Florida at Central Florida
RB Isaiah Bowser
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After quickly solidifying himself as the go-to guy in 2021, senior Isaiah Bowser is back for one more season. While he only rushed for 703 yards and nine touchdowns on 159 carries, he only played in eight games due to injury. Bowser has struggled to avoid the injury bug throughout his collegiate career. When Bowser was not on the field, the running game wasn’t as respected. He was able to offset the offensive line’s lack of explosiveness with the hitting power and ability He’s expected to be the top back again in 2022, but expect Malzahn to not ride him so heavily.

Johnny Richardson - Junior

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Central Florida
RB Johnny Richardson
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The lightning to Bowser’s thunder is junior Johnny Richardson. Richardson played an expanded role after Bowser got injured. He ended up with a team-leading 733 yards on 104 carries with three touchdowns. He also added 25 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown. His 959 yards of total offense was second among skilled players behind Ryan O’Keefe. He also is in direct competition with O’Keefe for being the fastest player on the team. His changing of numbers from 25 to 0 is going to be fun to watch when he breaks the big run.

Mark-Antony Richards - Junior

NCAA Football: South Florida at Central Florida
RB Mark-Antony Richards
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Mark-Antony Richards didn’t get on the field as much as fans expected, but he was able to make an impact when he was able to line up in the backfield. He ended up third in team rushing with 48 carries for 309 yards and five touchdowns. He was able to help secure a late-game victory over East Carolina with a touchdown in the closing seconds. Towards the end of the season, Richards began to see more consistent action, carrying the ball 8, 10, and 14 times in the final three games, respectively.

R.J. Harvey - Junior

NCAA Football: Central Florida Spring Game
RB R.J. Harvey
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

A physical specimen, Harvey was expected to break out in 2021, only for his season to end before it began. While still the most inexperienced back on the team, transferring from being a quarterback at Virginia to running back UCF in 2020, he’s wowed fans with his speed and physical running. While not as big as some of the other running backs, his 5ft8in, 195lbs frame is designed like a wrecking ball. It will be good to see Harvey get some good looks in practice and maybe some game time too.

Demarkcus Bowman - Sophomore

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Florida
RB DeMarkcus Bowman
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A former five-star recruit, Bowman transfers in from Florida and before that, Clemson, to an already crowded running back room. With Isaiah Bowser and Trillion Coles as the only seniors, it opens the door for Bowman to push for the third running back spot and a potentially bigger role in 2023.

Other running backs include senior Trillion Coles and freshmen Jordan McDonald and Anthony Williams.

UCF Running Backs

Number Name Height Weight Year 2021 School 2021 Rushing Stats 2021 Receiving Stats
Number Name Height Weight Year 2021 School 2021 Rushing Stats 2021 Receiving Stats
0 Johnny Richardson 5-7 170 Jr UCF 104 att, 733 yards, 7.0 avg, 3 TD 25 rec, 226 yards, 1 TD
5 Isaiah Bowser 6-1 225 5Y UCF 159 att, 703 yards, 4.4 avg, 9 TD 9 rec, 75 yards, 0 TD
6 Mark-Antony Richards 6-1 215 R-Jr UCF 48 att, 309 yards, 6.4 avg, 5 TD 8 rec, 76 yards, 0 TD
9 Jordan McDonald 6-1 220 Fr Milton HS (GA) 189 att, 1630 yards, 8.6 avg, 26 TD 14 rec, 122 yards, 1 TD
20 Anthony Williams 6-0 215 R-Fr UCF 5 att, 19 yards, 3.8 avg, 0 TD None
22 RJ Harvey 5-8 195 R-Jr UCF DNP - Injury DNP - Injury
23 Demarkcus Bowman 5-10 193 R-So Florida 14 att, 81 yards, 5.8 avg, 0 TD None
33 Trillion Coles 5-8 170 R-Sr UCF 32 att, 184 yards, 5.8 avg, 1 TD 6 rec, 31 yards, 1 TD
Source: Football Reference, 247 Sports