There are no questions for the Hurricanes in 2017 on who will be one of the leaders for this offense and will be the lead dog in the backfield.
Junior Mark Walton headlines the Hurricanes offense this year and quite possibly for the ACC at running back, as he returns from a season in which he rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns.
However, there is still room to grow and develop as an overall back. Coming into this season, the consistency needs to be there just as much as the talent. Back in 2016, Walton start with three straight 130+ yard games. After that, he only recorded three more 100+ yard games in the next 10 games. In six of those last 10 games, Walton received double-digit carries but averaged less than 3.5 yards per carry (three were 2.9 ypc or less). Walton though does have a unique talent in the passing game, recording 27 receptions for 240 yards and averaging 8.9 yards per catch.
Walton will be the feature back this season for the Canes and will look to get him the ball. Last season, when Walton rushed for over 100 yards, the Hurricanes were 6-0. When he didn’t, Miami was 3-4.
With Joseph Yearby gone (had 102 carries for 608 yards last year), the talent grows a little thin. Travis Homer is the next back that recorded attempts with only seven for 44 yards last year. However, he was a four-star recruit back in 2016 and will certainly be looked at to get more touches and provide depth.
Trayone Gray and Robert Burns will also be looked out as well. Burns is already in question for game one of the season and we shall see how he plays out for the rest of the season.
With questions surrounding the quarterback position early on this season, Walton will be certainly looked at to carry the load for this offense, especially with the talent he has around him. But one thing is for sure, if the Hurricanes want to compete for an ACC Championship, Walton will be a huge factor in 2017.