Coming out of the spring and heading toward summer there is one glaring positional concern for the Notre Dame football team: running back. Gone are Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, who combined to rush for nearly 1,700 yards last season, with a group of much less experienced backs left on the roster to try to fill their shoes in 2013.
George Atkinson III, Cam McDaniel and Amir Carlisle are the three veterans heading into fall camp in August. Those three received a lot more looks during spring practice with Riddick and Wood headed to the NFL. Fighting Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin says those three can all help the Irish ‘win football games’.
“The nice thing is all three of them are all significantly improved,” Martin said. “We never really got a good look at Amir. We got a little taste of Amir this spring and he really can do some things with some quickness and some toughness that we’ve actually now seen live. We saw it in high school (and) we saw it on tape, but it’s different to actually see it in practice and to be right in front of it.”
“They’re all way better players,” Martin continued. “George has improved a lot of parts of his game and really George improved every part of his game – even from last fall. Now he’s got a lot more reps, he’s not the third guy. He’s been running with the ones.”
While Atkinson is the most experienced of the group, he is yet to really distinguish himself as an every down back. He was Notre Dame’s third-leading rusher with 361 yards and a 7.1 per carry average last year.