Photo: Kathy Hitchcock (@katsphotosfl)

If there’s any position group that has the potential to compete with schools at the Power 5 level for the Florida Atlantic Owls, it’s likely the running backs.

Highlighted by Alabama transfer BJ Emmons and speedster Malcolm Davidson, the FAU running backs are deeper than most groups in the country. Last season, four running backs averaged over four yards per carry and three of them return for 2020. If injuries hit as they have in the past, FAU has the potential to go four or five deep in the room — much like it did last season.

Like other positions, FAU has a new running backs coach in Chris Perkins. Perkins joined FAU in 2017 as an assistant but after Kevin Smith departed to Ole Miss with Lane Kiffin, Perkins was promoted to running backs coach. The loss of Smith hurts but Perkins has started recruiting well and is well-respected among many.

The Players

BJ Emmons – Senior (6-0, 220 pounds): BJ Emmons was injured in the first game of the season last year, but when he returned to the field, he was impressive. In the final four games of the season, Emmons ran for 236 yards and six touchdowns on just 50 carries. Coming into his senior season, it’s entirely possible that Emmons receives NFL interest early on with another strong season.

Malcolm Davidson – Junior (5-10, 205 pounds): Although Malcolm Davidson battled some injuries throughout the season, it was near impossible to slow him down when he was on the field. Davidson was FAU’s leading rusher last season. He rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns on just 102 carries. The junior is fast and when he gets into space, it’s good night for the defense. With two years of eligibility left, it’s not hard to imagine Davidson in the NFL.

Larry McCammon III – Sophomore (5-11, 200 pounds): It was a successful first season for McCammon. His season concluded by being named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team after playing in nine games. In those nine games, McCammon saw 91 carries, running for 324 yards and seven touchdowns. McCammon was too good to redshirt as a freshman and he’ll be too talented to keep off the field as a sophomore.

James Charles – Redshirt Senior (5-10, 205 pounds): For a long time, Charles was buried on the FAU depth chart. In 2019 however, Charles finally saw some significant playing time. On 78 carries, Charles ran for 413 yards and five touchdowns. How much playing time Charles gets depends on how camp shapes out but the potential for a big-time season is there.

Kelvin Dean, Jr. – Redshirt Freshman (6-0, 195 pounds): Dean was electric in high school but saw limited playing time in his first college season. That wasn’t due to ability, but because the players in front of him all played well. In 2020, it might be difficult to keep Dean off the field again because his talent is far too much to hold off for a while.

Depth Chart

Position Name
RB1 Malcolm Davidson/BJ Emmons
RB2 Larry McCammon/James Charles
RB3 Kelvin Dean, Jr.

The Story to Watch

Can the running backs stay healthy?: FAU struggled with running back injuries last season. Despite that, the Owls didn’t see any adverse effects from the injuries, because of the depth at the position group. The same depth is there in 2020, but the offense would greatly benefit from a healthy running backs room.

Breakout Player

Kelvin Dean, Jr: Dean was highly successful coming out of high school and has plenty of size to take over the lead running back position for FAU. It’ll be hard to keep Dean off the field in 2020. When he does get on the field, there’s no telling what role he’ll carve out for himself.