The Boston College Eagles have lost their starting quarterback, Matt Ryan, to the NFL, and he could potentially be the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft.
In cases such as this, you'd like to be able to rely on a running back with experience. Unfortunately for Boston College, that's an impossibility as those backs with significant playing time last season -- L.V. Whitworth (362 yards rushing and three touchdowns) and Andre Callender (989 yards and nine TDs) -- are gone.
So here's the question: On a team with a new quarterback and no running backs with major college experience, who is going to be the guy the team turns to in order to keep enemy offenses off the field?
Well, it could be freshman Josh Haden, a four-star running back from Fort Washington, Md., who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. If that sounds good, please understand that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Haden. Still, freshmen rarely start in big-time college football. So why is Haden already being tabbed as the Eagles' starting running back by many?
Because he's likely going to be the most talented of a bunch of players with very little experience at the position for Boston College in 2008.
Soon-to-be sophomore Jeff Smith (5-foot-9, 190 pounds) only managed 4 yards rushing last season for the club and wasn't that highly ranked coming out of high school. In addition, he dealt with injuries in 2007. John Siravo, a 5-10, 194-pound senior back, doesn't have any college experience and wasn't highly ranked either. Then there's Patrick Quinn, who only offers more of the same.
Thus, when you break it down, all that probably would've been left to stand in Haden's way was soon-to-be junior A.J. Brooks (65 yards rushing last season), a 5-11, 198-pounder who was considered the 51st-best running back in the nation when he came out of high school in 2004. Unfortunately, he supposedly beat a 20-year-old man in December, was suspended, and is unlikely to suit up for the club next season. Of course, when you compare his background to that of Haden -- who is widely considered the third-best all-around back in the 2008 class and the No. 2 overall player coming out of Maryland -- it just seems to pale in comparison anyway.
So who will be the starting running back next season for the Eagles? Can't be sure yet. But what is known is that a favorite seems to have poked his head out. Interestingly, that favorite has never donned a BC uniform.