Backfield by committee

Aug 27, 2013 - Posted by Jared Houghton on August 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Updated: August 27, 2013 1:52 pm

In Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press briefing for the upcoming Virginia game, he commented on how deep the Cougars are at running back. Here is a look at the four backs who will see significant playing time in BYU's backfield this year.

Jamaal Williams, So., Fontana, Calif.

All Jamaal Williams did last season was set the true freshman rushing records at BYU with 775 yards, 12 touchdowns and 166 carries. The 6-foot-0 speedster played in every game and started the last eight after the injury to Michael Alisa. Williams is the starting running back and has already garnered preseason attention by being named to the Doak Walker watch list, which is awarded to the top running back in the nation, and the preseason All-Independent Third Team. He should continue to be a threat out of the backfield, last season he had 27 receptions, good for 315 yards and one touchdown. 

Paul Lasike, Jr., Auckland, New Zealand

The rugby All-American tried out for the football team last season and has improved leaps and bounds since then. Last season, he tallied 33 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching a pass for 25 yards. The 6-foot-0, 227-pound bruiser has shown an increased knowledge of the game at the running back position from last season and should see significant playing time this fall as the backup to Williams. 

Adam Hine, So., Santa Clara, UT

The former three-time state champion in the high jump and long jump looks to make an immediate impact in the backfield this season. After a redshirt year in 2011 and hampered by injuries in 2012, Hine is poised to have a breakout season. His injury kept him out of all but four games last season, when he saw action on special teams. The 6-foot-1, 202 pounder is one of the most athletic players on the team, evident by the fact that he will be joined by Lasike returning kickoffs for the Cougars this season. 

Michael Alisa, Sr., Laie, Hawai'i

Another 2013 Doak Walker Award candidate, the senior played linebacker and on special teams his freshman year before making the switch to running back as a sophomore. As evidenced by his numbers, the position change has proved to be a good one. As a sophomore, Alisa was the second leading rusher on the team with 85 carries for 455 yards and three touchdowns. He was set for a big year in 2012 before he broke his arm against Hawai'i in the fifth game that sidelined him for the season. As the veteran in the backfield, he will provide leadership and another option for the Cougars at running back.

As of right now, Williams and Alisa are penciled in as the starters but all will see a lot of playing time with the up-tempo offense that coordinator Robert Anae has brought to the team. The four backs will combine to put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses this season.