Nick Wilson had a sensational freshman year racking up 1375 yards and 16 touchdowns, so the Arizona Wildcats know who their starter and workhorse will be. With the graduation of Terris Jones-Grigsby, however, we don't really know who his complement will be.
Key losses: Terris Jones-Grigsby, Adonis Smith
Key returners: Nick Wilson, Jared Baker, Zach Green, Jonathan Haden
Key additions: Orlando Bradford
TJG had over 500 yards rushing last year, and someone (or multiple players) will have to replace that production. The running backs in position to do that are unproven, but certainly not talentless.
The obvious candidate to be Arizona's number two runner is Jared Baker, who will start the season as Wilson's backup. Baker is now a redshirt senior, but really doesn't have a lot of in-game experience. He had just 25 carries last season, and has only 72 in three years as a Wildcat. Although he did do a nice job of filling in against USC last year when he had 12 carries for 43 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and 50 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Baker has speed and elusiveness, and in the Spring Game, he showed an ability to be a power running back at times, despite being 5-8, 192 lbs. I've heard Keola Antolin comparisons be thrown around when talking about Baker, but I think that's a little too premature.
The third string running back, as of now, appears to be Zach Green, who only has seven career carries. Green certainly isn't the fastest of running backs, but at 5-10, 220 lbs, he doesn't have to be. He's a North and South runner. He said he feels a lot more comfortable this year, and believes he's a much better all-around player compared to last season.
Aside from Baker and Green, there are two other running backs that could find their way into the offense. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Haden and true freshman Orlando Bradford. I believe that one of these two will breakout, or at the very least, become the backup by the end of the season. Haden is probably the fastest running back on the team (though is only 5-6), and Bradford has a great combination of size and speed. In fact, Bradford has been compared to Ka'Deem Carey, but I wouldn't expect him to be THAT good.
Between the two, I'd bet on Bradford to emerge this season. I really liked what I saw from him at Saturday's scrimmage.
No matter how you slice it, I don't think you should be worried about the running back position unless Nick Wilson is forced to miss some games. There are a lot of players in the group, some that are pretty talented, and the better ones will rise to the top as the season goes on. I mean we were talking about having "running back by committee" last year, and then Nick Wilson set that plan on fire. Something similar could happen again this year.
Besides, Rich Rod's offense is very running back friendly, and so I'm sure whoever is put out there to give Nick Wilson a breather will do a fine job. The offensive line's ability -- or lack thereof -- to create running lanes is probably what you should be worried about instead.