Notre Dame Spring ’07 Report: Running Backs

Six practices are in the books for the 2007 Spring Football season so I figured I’d take a look at some of the more pivotal positions that must be developed this spring and how the Irish are doing at each thus far.  First position I’ll take a look at is running back since it is definitely one of the more exciting positions so far this Spring.

Travis Thomas – So far most reports coming out of practice have sung the praises of Thomas.  After spending last season at linebacker, he is back at running back and have been impressive so far this spring.  He has shown a nice burst in the limited video I have seen and just looks the part.  He looked good catching the ball in some of the videos today and despite my predictions last month that James Aldridge would overtake Thomas for the #1 running back spot, it doesn’t seem like that is very likely with a common phrase describing Thomas this spring being “a man amongst boys.”  Thomas has a much different running style than last year’s starter Darius Walker as we’ve seen in the past.  Thomas isn’t one to bounce around in the backfield a lot.  He’ll find an opening and hit it quick.

james-aldridge.jpgJames Aldridge – In some of the early video on the Irish All Access, Aldridge’s lateral movement in some of the drills looked a bit slow, but in the video from yesterday’s practice its looked much smoother.  Some people tend to forget that Aldridge is still technically a freshman and seem a bit impatient to see him make an impact.  In today’s video, I liked what I saw out of Aldridge catching the ball out of the backfield and I think we’ll see a lot of James Aldridge this year as a between the tackles runner who can help wear down a defense.  He isn’t a huge back, but he is a powerful runner.

Armando Allen – Allen’s name has popped up a lot as one of the most impressive athletes early on in spring.  Watch Allen in any video and you will see some serious speed – speed Notre Dame hasn’t had in a while at the position.  Allen’s movement looks really smooth and he looks like he could be the homerun threat Notre Dame has lacked at the running back position since Julius Jones.  Allen has been living up the hype so far, but it is still very early.  I don’t want to get too excited yet after getting hyped last summer over Munir Prince having the “whoosh” factor according to Weis.  That said, Allen can be a very special back of he continues to digest the playbook and continue to develop.

Munir Prince – Despite having the “whoosh” factor, Prince moved over to corner back when Gary Gray went down with a broken arm.  Prince is one of the fastest players on the team so his speed on offense will be missed, but with the talent and depth Notre Dame has at this position, the Irish offense can withstand this loss.

Junior Jabbie – Jabbie really has had a rough career at Notre Dame thus far, but it looks like he might finally be ready to see some playing time as a senior.  Not sure if he’ll be able to gain too many carries with the talent ahead of him, but he should get a look on kick returns as he did last year.  He looks pretty quick going through some of the agility drills.

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