2010 Penn Football Preview: Running Backs

Previous Previews: Offensive Line (8/6) | Tight Ends (8/9) | Defensive Line (8/11)

PHILADELPHIA - Leading up to Penn Football's first day of preseason practice on Aug. 24, the Penn Sports Network and PennAthletics.com will provide an in-depth look into the 2010 Penn Quakers. Each position will be previewed with analysis, a preseason depth chart and an interview with the position coach.

This installment of Penn Football's Preseason Position Previews involves a glimpse into the 2010 running backs and an interview with 12th-year running backs coach Steven Downs.

A full discussion with the position coach:

Penn Sports Network anchor Dan Fritz sat down with running backs coach Steven Downs earlier this week to discuss the status of the position heading into preseason practices. Click the above link to see the full interview or visit the Penn Sports Network multimedia page by clicking here.

A look at who is listed at this position entering the preseason:

48 Brandon Colavita RB 5-9 205 So. Sewell, N.J. (Washington Township)
31 Michael DiMaggio RB 5-10 215 Sr. Sewell, N.J. (Bishop Eustace)
41 Luke DeLuca FB 6-0 240 Sr. Grand Island, N.Y. (Phillips Academy)
25 Patrick Foley RB 6-0 185 So. Phoenix, Ariz. (Notre Dame Prep)
46 Jeff Jack RB 5-11 210 So. Royal City, Wash. (Royal/Salisbury Prep (Conn.))
43 David Macknet FB 5-11 230 Sr. Haddonfield, N.J. (Haddonfield)
26 Lyle Marsh RB 6-0 215 So. Bethel Park, Pa. (Bethel Park)
39 Greg Schuster FB 6-1 235 So. New City, N.Y. (Clarkstown North/Salisbury Prep (Conn.))
Josh Scott RB 6-1 210 So. Newton, Mass. (Milton Academy)
Mason Smith RB 6-2 195 Fr. Satellite Beach, Fla. (Satellite)
9 Bradford Blackmon RB 5-8 170 Sr. Jackson, Miss. (St. Andrews Episcopal)
28 Matt Hamscher RB 5-10 190 Jr. Whitehall, Pa. (Whitehall)

A PennAthletics.com preview of what and who to expect at this position:

Can you have too much depth? If its possible, the Quakers may suffer from it at running back. The only forseeable problem at this postion may be deciding who to hand the ball to. All of Penn's backs return from the 2009 championship season, which includes two All-Ivy running backs and an All-Ivy fullback. (The only senior in the backfield last year was David Macknet, but he suffered a season-ending injury early last season and medically redshirted his 2009 campaign).

Let's look at the options the Quakers will have this year:

Michael DiMaggio
- Oddly, heading into this season he may have the most to prove despite being the most highly credentialed back. As a freshman, he ran for nearly 400 yards and was a three-time Ivy League Player of the Week. Then a year ago at this time, he was coming off of an All-Ivy campaign where he ran for 585 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore. However, he was hampered with injuries all of last season and was reduced to a minimal role. So the biggest question mark surrounding the running backs may be whether DiMaggio will be back to 100 percent and can return to All-Ivy form.

Lyle Marsh - Marsh proved that he could carry the load last season. As a freshman, he put forth an All-Ivy performance in the abscence of DiMaggio. He was fifth in the league with 526 yards and his 4.7 yards per carry stands as sixth-best in school history. Marsh has only set the fans' expectations soaring, but when forced into the starting running back role - as a freshman - during an Ivy championship run, he's shown he has the maturity and capability to live up to them.

Jeff Jack - Shhhhh! Penn fans know about Jeff Jack. But it wouldn't hurt if no else did. The Quaker faithful know they have another potential All-Ivy back in Jack, however, he can get lost amongst all the other talent in this backfield, and those who follow the Red and Blue can't wait to see him unleashed on unsuspecting Ivy League opponents.

Bradford Blackmon - There may be no Quaker that is on the field for more plays in 2010 than Blackmon. His carries will be limited due to the depth at this position, but mostly due to his versatility. He'll be spread thin this year, taking snaps at running back, wide receiver, and maybe on defense. Not to mention his special teams duties - in the last two years, he has been one of the team's top returners.

Matt Hamscher - Much in the same situation as Blackmon, Hamscher will be splitting his talents on both sides of the ball. The biggest difference is that he will play almost exclusively at running back on offense. He has been a strength for Penn at this position for each of his first two seasons and will certainly see his share of carries this season.

Yes. There are more. Don't be surprised to hear the names of Patrick Foley, Brandon Colavita, Mason Smith or Josh Scott at some point this season.

At fullback, there won't be nearly as much decision-making needed. Luke DeLuca was outstanding at the position last year and was nearly unstoppable near the goal line. He led the team in scoring with six touchdowns and was selected to the All-Ivy second team. You can probably expect to see more of the same in 2010 - which is a lot of No. 41 on goal-to-go situations.

A perspective from an anonymous opposing coach:

"They are a scary group. They aren't just one of the deepest groups of backs in the Ivy League, but in the country. It'll be fun trying to stop them for sure."

A little known detail about the players at the position:

* With a crowded offensive backfield, the Quakers are taking steps to ensure that two of their most talented athletes see the field on as many plays as possible. Bradford Blackmon and Matt Hamscher have been working out with the defense since the spring and have found their way on to the defensive depth chart as well. More info on their roles in the defensive backfield in 2010 when the DB preview appears on Monday.

A look into where the players at this position stand heading into preseason practice:

Running Back:
26 Lyle Marsh RB 6-0 215 So. Bethel Park, Pa. (Bethel Park)
28 Matt Hamscher RB 5-10 190 Jr. Whitehall, Pa. (Whitehall)
31 Michael DiMaggio RB 5-10 215 Sr. Sewell, N.J. (Bishop Eustace)
46 Jeff Jack RB 5-11 210 So. Royal City, Wash. (Royal/Salisbury Prep (Conn.))
41 Luke DeLuca RB 6-0 240 Sr. Grand Island, N.Y. (Phillips Academy)
43 David Macknet RB 5-11 230 Sr. Haddonfield, N.J. (Haddonfield)