If there is a position that can make or break the Zips' 2009 season, it is running back.
Most will agree that the talent is rich. Most also will contend that the bones, tendons and muscles are fragile.
J.D. Brookhart made it clear who will play in the fall. It is Alex Allen, Dale Martin and then everybody else. If you're in the "everybody else" category, don't fret. Allen and Martin have a first down's worth of medical charts.
Martin was a four-star recruit out of Bollingbrook High School in Illinois, the same school that Ryan Bain attended. He committed to Louisville and sat out his first year with a shoulder injury. In his first spring since transferring to Akron, Martin tore his Achilles' tendon. According to the original prognosis, Martin will be out until at least July and possibly as late as September.
Allen's future is a little brighter, but his past has been riddled with injuries. He used a medical redshirt in 2006 after tearing his ACL. He was granted a medical hardship waiver for last year's season, which ended on Sept. 13 with a hip fracture. Before the injury, Allen averaged 4.8 yards per carry as the starting running back. The fifth-year senior sat out during the spring, probably more as a precaution against re-injuring the hip.
Here is a brief breakdown of the other backs who almost certainly will get a chance...
DeVoe Torrence -- A four-star prospect, Torrence committed to Ohio State. The Buckeyes rescinded their offer when Torrence was charged with rape. He was later acquitted. In terms of talent, Torrence is top-shelf. His lack of experience has hurt him in Brookhart's eyes. Torrence missed some time in the spring with an ankle injury. In the spring game, he rushed three times for 32 yards.
Joe Tuzze -- Tuzze will provide depth and serve as the short-yardage horse if he's healthy. He missed the spring with an injured back. Tuzze had 14 carries in 2008 and averaged 6.1 yards.
Nate Burney -- The 5-foot-6 junior showed this spring that he is capable of taking carries. He is more valuable catching passes out of the backfield.
Gary Pride -- If Pride is healthy, he might get a few carries on unorthodox running plays. Pride isn't the sort of back who you want plowing through the middle, though.
Broderick Alexander -- As the only running back recruit from the 2009 class, the coaches would prefer to redshirt him.