Today we'll look at the third option in the Eagles' offensive machine. For those unfamiliar with the triple option, the A-Back, or Slot back, lines up just outside of the tackles and a step back into the backfield. Just prior to the snap, one of the backs will go in motion to just behind the B-Back, so that the snap is taken with that player running at full speed. This helps get the pitch relationship set up, and allows for quick jet sweeps. The A-back position is about speed and blocking, and the Eagles are starting to stock up on both.
Starters - JR J.J. Wilcox/JR Darreion Robinson - J.J. Wilcox is the clear leader of this group, having started all 15 games in 2010. Wilcox carried the ball 85 times for 504 yards (5.9 ypc) and added 22 receptions for 551 yards (25 ypc). Additionally, he was a major force blocking out front, and was easily the best blocking slot back on the Eagles' squad. There is some potential to mix things up in 2011, so don't be surprised to see Wilcox lining up at WR, which is where he played in high school and in his first year under Chris Hatcher. Darreion Robinson started 2010 as a backup, but moved into the starting rotation as the season wore on. He rushed 61 times for 465 yards (7.6 ypc) and caught 4 passes for 72 yards (18 ypc). Robinson is a speedster, and showed it with a weaving 78 yard run against Wofford in the regular season.
Backups - SR Nico Hickey/SO Darries Robinson/SO Johnathan Bryant - The A-back position sees a lot of rotation to keep fresh legs in the game, and the Eagles will have plenty of options on the sideline. Nico Hickey started five games in 2010 and racked up 187 yards on 28 carries (6.7 ypc). Darries Robinson struggled to pick up the finer points of the offense (blocking), and saw his playing time drop as the season went on, but is expected to be right in the thick of things in 2011. Johnathan Bryant started 2010 opposite J.J. Wilcox, but a broken leg in the first game put a damper on his season. He is expected to be full strength going in to Spring practice and should challenge for a starting job.
Additional Depth - RS FR Alex Ford has major wheels and should bring some extra speed to the position, JR Brian Wilcher saw playing time in the playoffs after spending the season on the scout team, and 2011 signee Seon Jones could see action in his true freshman year if necessary.