|USC commit Stephen Carr hasn't slowed down this offseason. He's put together a strong tournament season as he prepares for his senior year of high school (photo by Lorenzo Reyna).|
They may not be hitting the open holes created by their linemen or stepping in and picking blitzes up right now, but most running backs still use this time of year to work on another key trait to their game: receiving.
And five backfield stars – two of them already highly recruited – have shown their hands and big play capabilities during the tournament season.
Who has stood out to me? Here’s the five who have caught my attention during this spring season.
Disclaimer: Much like my last post regarding quarterbacks, once again this list is based off of who has stood out in my own eyes. I’m sure there has been some other solid running back performers, but to reiterate, I don’t always have the luxury to watch everyone. If anyone was left off this list, it’s nothing against you.
Stephen Carr, Fontana (Calif.) Summit
At a sinewy 190-pounds, Carr looks like someone who stepped out of a photo shoot with Muscle & Fitness Magazine. The USC commit is more than a chiseled frame, though. Carr – offered recently by Miami, LSU, Nebraska and Michigan - was the top receiving and running threat for his team Ground Zero Panoramic during the Passing Down Southern California Regional on March 20 in Fontana. Carr has made his hands softer and more reliable in the passing game during this period. He also has shown an elusiveness and second gear after the catch.
T.J. Pledger, West Hills-Chaminade
The Class of 2018 prospect was explosive on wheel and out routes during his appearance at PD’s March 20 Fontana regional. Like Carr, Pledger came equipped with some open field moves and hands. National powers USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Washington are currently making an early dash at him on the recruiting trail.
Jullen Ison, Hayward-Moreau Catholic
He’s got to be the biggest sleeper back in the Golden State. In shoulder pads, Ison accelerated to over 3,000 yards rushing last season. In shirts and shorts, Ison has displayed excellent body control with his catches and can make some ridiculous one-handed grabs in traffic. Ison is currently offer-less during this recruiting period.
Chuck Wick, Ventura-St.Bonaventure
Wick has been Team Green and Gold’s [an all-St. Bonaventure squad] top security blanket and dynamic playmaker during the tourney run. Wick gets good separation against his defenders, then shows a wicked burst after the catch that makes him look like a 100-meter dash sprinter coming off the blocks. Wick is yet to report his first offer but says he’s been in contact with Wyoming and Texas A&M.
Josh Boone, San Francisco-Riodan
Like Ison, the 5-foot-8 Boone is another sleeper back in the Bay Area. Boone has shown consistent hands, an ankle-breaking juke move after the catch and a never-get-tired attitude. Along with his admirable offensive game, Boone has excelled as a slot cover cornerback as well. He’s not only waiting on his first offer, but his first letter from a university.