After losing senior RB and second leading rusher Duane Bennett to graduation, head coach Jerry Kill needed to find contributors ready to step up immediately in 2012. He got exactly that in James Gillum, a junior college transfer from Mississippi. However, Gillum was not the only RB signee in this class as he was joined by Texas native Rodrick Williams Jr. Williams is the type of RB who was born to play in the B1G Ten; big, strong, able to break tackles, and relentless.
The Gophers are in need of depth at RB with just three players currently on scholarship in Donnell Kirkwood, Devon Wright and David Cobb. Both of these guys could see playing time in 2012.
Gillum is another junior college player who has already enrolled in school for spring semester. He has a good combination of size, speed, and agility. Gillum has been recruited by Coach Kill and his staff since he was in high school and they were at Northern Illinois. He was brought in to compete for the starting RB and has a good shot at beating out Donnell Kirkwood, David Cobb and Devon Wright. In junior college, Wright played in a scheme similar to the zone-read system the Gophers run, except out of the shotgun, not pistol formation.
Prediction: I think Gillum will win the starting job come next fall and lead the RBs in touches and carries. Not likely to reach the 1,000 yard plateau next season, but will be a solid contributor.
The film on Rodrick Williams is very impressive. He played for one of the worst 5A schools in Texas, yet somehow managed to run for 850 yards and haul in 26 catches for 389 yards. Do not let Williams’s size fool you either as he is very agile and a threat in the passing game. He may come into camp and impress, but even if he does not, Rodrick has a bright future with the Gophers. He can pound the ball inside and has impressive speed for his size.
Prediction: Williams will red-shirt unless an injury occurs to another RB in 2012, but will compete for a lot of playing time in 2013 and beyond.