This is part of our position-by-position look at the Charlotte 49ers football team heading into the first day of preseason camp on Thursday. If you missed anything from the past few days, catch up: QBs | Offensive Line
Probably one of the most important offensive positions on the football field is the running back. Without a strong ground attack, the quarterback is forced to carry too much of the offensive load; a good rushing game tires opposing defenses out and opens up more opportunities to get the ball downfield.
The Charlotte 49ers will certainly have their pick of who they’ll start at running back–but the two that really stood out in the spring game were H-back Damarrell Alexander and athlete Alan Barnwell. Alexander, a transfer from UNC Pembroke, was originally signed by the Braves as a d-back, but was plugged into the HB slot by the staff shortly after coming in. Barnwell, the first ever verbal commit to Niner football, was an all-conference selection after his senior year of high school and certainly adds speed to the mix–he was an all-state track star at Burlington (NC) High School. With the tools he brings to the table, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him starting on August 31.
One problem is that the Niners aren’t incredibly deep at running back. Corey Nesmith, the slot man, saw some carries back in April, as did Quintin Gay and Donjore Gainey, listed as athletes on the roster. They’ll hope Barnwell can stay healthy and also rely on predicted starting QB Matt Johnson’s dual threat abilities to help them on the ground. Two players signed on a few months back: Kalif Phillips from Kannapolis (NC) Brown, as did Chris Duffy, who actually elected to head the JUCO route instead. Phillips was a nearly 2,000 yard rusher in his senior season, racking up 25 touchdowns on the ground and five more through the air, and could really push the competition at RB.