Matt Spillane

Rutgers' Huggins Set To Lead Ground Game

Created on Apr. 16, 2013 10:00 AM EST

It's time for Savon Huggins to turn the hype into production. The success of Rutgers' running game will fall on the shoulders of its rising junior halfback, who follows the NFL-bound Jawan Jamison.

As Jamison, who left two years early, prepares for next week's NFL draft, Rutgers is preparing to replace its former star running back, who piled up 1,075 yards last season. New offensive coordinator Ron Prince will put a premium on the run game in the Scarlet Knights' pro-style attack, and Jamison leaves a big hole to fill.

Prince and the Scarlet Knights' offense could be even better off in 2013, though, thanks to Huggins. A former four-star recruit from nearby St. Peter's Prep, he is primed to shine as Rutgers' feature back. The 6-foot, 200-pound back was New Jersey's top recruit in 2011 and was Rutgers' second-leading rusher in 2012 with 410 yards, including a 179-yard, 41-carry game against Cincinnati.

Though there are reasons for Rutgers fans to be excited about Huggins becoming the primary back, he has shown more hype than production at this point. He has rushed for just 556 yards in two seasons, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

Huggins has the right attitude and work ethic, though, to lead the Scarlet Knights' offense, setting a goal of topping 1,300 yards on the ground this year.

Regardless of the coaches' confidence in Huggins, there are no better options; the three other backs competing for snaps have just five career carries between them. Huggins fits the mold of power backs of Rutgers' past, such as Jamison and Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, but Prince could go in a different direction if Huggins isn't cutting it.

Redshirt freshman Desmon Peoples is a smaller, lighter back who boasts plenty of shiftiness and breakaway speed. Huggins is the prototype of what Prince and head coach Kyle Flood want in a back, but Peoples could challenge Huggins by offering a different skill set.

Still, it's Huggins' job to lose and one that Rutgers and its fans hope he wins big.

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