For the second installment of this year's football roster breakdown, The Daily Targum takes a look at the running backs and predicts the top three on the depth chart for the 2021 season. As a team, Rutgers gained over 1,500 yards on the ground in 2020, with five players recording triple-digit yard totals. The Scarlet Knights have a total of eight running backs on their roster, with five freshmen looking to get into the rotation.
Starter: Isaih Pacheco
As is the case with much of the team, a returning starter from last year looks to build upon the work done in 2020. Pacheco, a junior, led Rutgers last season with 552 rushing yards and finished third on the team in all-purpose yards. He also was the standard for the Knights ground game in 2019 and is very likely to be the rushing leader for three consecutive years.
In the spring football game, Pacheco was very limited, only registering one carry for six yards. Head football coach Greg Schiano indicated that this was “on purpose”, and the running back is still poised to be the leader of the backfield.
“I want to see him do what he’s capable of doing,” Schiano said. “I’d like to see it on a consistent basis, because if he does he’ll be as good as there is.’’
The running back was one of five players in the program to be named to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list, an event heavily scouted by NFL teams.
Second String: Aaron Young
Young is another multi-year producer in the Rutgers backfield who returns for the 2021 season. The sophomore, who was named to the Academic All-Big Ten list, enters his third year with the program, having played in every game since stepping foot in Piscataway.
Young rushed for 102 yards last season and added 100 receiving yards, recording at least one reception in every game. The 5-foot-10 ball carrier had an impressive start to his preseason, leading the spring football game with 86 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Third String: Kyle Monangai
Pacheco and Young are the only running backs to record a rushing yard in 2020 who return to the program. This third position will go to a fresh face looking to make an impact in 2021. Monangai is a freshman, impressing early in the year with a touchdown in the spring football game.
Schiano described the Don Bosco Prep graduate as having both “good carries” and a “good spring” after his performance, and there is a real chance for him or one of the other four freshmen to emerge from the pack and work their way into the rotation.
As the running backs continue to practice breaking tackles and catching passes out of the backfield, check out the Targum’s other preseason predictions and coverage of Rutgers football.
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