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Can any of Missouri's 2015 signees play an early role at running back?

Missouri brought in three running backs in its 2015 signing class: four-star JUCO transfer Chase Abbington and freshmen Marquise Doherty and Ryan Williams. Can any of them make a dent in the depth chart this fall?

Chase Abbington (6'2, 215, So.)

Jack Peglow: One of the players with the biggest potential to have a breakout season would most assuredly be Abbington. The former Fort Zumwalt South star and junior college transfer is a big, versatile weapon who’s comfortable attacking defenses from a variety of positions. He couldn’t be making his Mizzou debut at a better time, with the offense looking to fill a Marcus Murphy sized hole in its all-purpose game.

While at Hutchinson Community College, Abbington lined up just about everywhere: tailback, slot receiver, and even by himself out wide. He’s on record saying that he would relish the chance to bring that sort of flexibility to Josh Henson’s offense; and with the lack of experience beyond Hansbrough and Culkin, that kind of skill-set will be much appreciated.

The Beef: I really am curious how things with Chase Abbington are going to play out this fall. Many Mizzou fans have had their collective eye on him since he signed out of high school a couple of winters ago, and his stint at JUCO has only served to increase the anxiously excited hand-wringing.

I will be honest … I think the fact that he will not have arrived on campus until basically the end of summer is going to hinder him a bit more than people think, and while I certainly believe he will be ahead of the two freshmen (and Trevon Walters as well), I am not sure how the battle between him and Steward will play out. Steward, though coming off of injury, should know the playbook just fine. Abbington may not, and may also be in less than optimal shape since he’s not had the chance to train here this summer.

Not saying I don’t think Abbington doesn’t ultimately become a key part of the offense, but I am one who is pumping the brakes on what sort of immediate impact he might make.

switzy227: Would love to see if Abbington can contribute immediately. But ultimately, there are a lot of players on this list who are going to be redshirted or see secondary roles.

Kacc56: I confess to wanting Abbington to play a different position. With the young depth at RB (don't forget Nate Strong next year) and Abbington's long frame, I wonder if he wouldn't be better suited playing WR or on defense. That said, he's definitely been a productive back, and if Pat Ivey can put some more weight on him he could bring something very different to the backfield.

jaeger: I kind of expect Chase Abbington to be a Derrick Washington type back. Fast enough, not a burner, but makes good decisions (well, on-field decisions anyway), has good hands, and always seems to fall forward for another yard or two. I would be completely happy with that.

Fullback U: Listed at 6’2, Chase Abbington is easily the tallest running back on Mizzou’s roster, and seeing him in person I am inclined to believe it. Fans haven’t seen him much, as he’s spent two years in JUCO where he used his redshirt season, and there’s been a lot of debate about him changing positions, but he’s practicing with the running backs and is just behind Morgan Steward on the depth chart.

I don’t know if there’s a Mizzou RB I’ve seen to compare him to. I can envision him playing a limited number of reps each game where he’s asked to be a play-maker in space more than a traditional running back. He looks like he has the frame to add more muscle and if he does he could turn into a true feature back.

Bill C.: Knowing how frequently Mizzou running backs line up wide before getting motioned into the backfield, and knowing how much Mizzou really wanted Marcus Murphy to turn into a route-runner last year, it would stand to reason that if Abbington is in shape and up to speed on the playbook, he could very much find a role to play in this offense. But that might not completely come to fruition until 2016.

Marquise Doherty (6'1, 205, Fr.)

The Beef: When I just read Marquise’s size, I was very surprised. To think that where we had the mighty midgets last year with Russell Hansbrough, Marcus Murphy and Ish Witter, that Gary Pinkel was able to bring in potential RBs of 6’0, 6’1 and 6’2 makes me chuckle just a bit.

This was a solid recruiting win for the Tigers, both this past winter and then again this past summer as the MLB draft came and went without Doherty signing professionally. Lots to be excited about with him, and though we have certainly see true frosh see the field, I think it would take both Steward and Abbington really struggling for Doherty to get out there in 2015.

jaeger: Doubt we’ll see Doherty out there, but the increasing size of our tailbacks is indeed interesting.

Fullback U: Marquise Doherty is another running back who, barring injury, I think is destined for a redshirt in 2015. He’s another taller running back with fantastic speed and that could either signal a change in philosophy for Mizzou’s running game or simply a dynamic athlete looking for a position.

Ryan Williams (6'0, 180, Fr.)

The Beef: One of the earliest commitments for this class, Williams continues the trend of folks coming out of Lee's Summit West in Kansas City. He had a solid year rushing the ball, but also seems able to catch the ball out of the backfield, with over 40 receptions in his final two high school seasons. Might this be a talent that expedites his path to the field down the road? Certainly something to keep an eye on.

Fullback U: He looks smaller than the listed 6’0, but he's stout, in the mold of Russell Hansbrough. Barring injuries, he’s destined for a redshirt season in 2015. Currently listed at the bottom of the depth chart.