BOZEMAN — Creating depth has been the focal point this spring for Montana State football in every facet of their team, but following this year’s FCS title game, one position group with probably the highest priority – aside from quarterback – has been the running backs.
"It’s definitely somewhere we need to develop depth and not just have one guy get a bunch of carries and end up not being healthy towards the end of the season," junior running back Lane Sumner reflected.
While Isaiah Ifanse’s 1,628 rushing yards last fall may have set a new Bobcat record, his 280 carries nearly entered the running back into uncharted waters.
It’s a lesson learned for Montana State after that workload finally caught up with Ifanse in the post-season, now sidelining him this spring as he recovers from knee surgery.
“Running back is a very physical position," Sumner explained. "It tends to have a lot of guys get injured.”
That’s exactly why this offseason, finding a back to share that workload has been critical.
“That backup running back was a little bit of a revolving door last year," head coach Brent Vigen said. "We need to really solidify that, and spring is when you need to do that.”
Last season Elijah Elliott was the coined backup finishing third in rushing with 325 yards, but with him also sidelined due to a hamstring injury, it’s presented an opportunity for DeMareus Hosey, Garrett Coon, Jaalen Rening, Nolan Iverson and Sumner.
“Next man up, and that’s kind of how we’ve always been in our room," Sumner said."Like I said, the running back is a physical position. Guys go down. There’s no drop-off. That’s our goal is the next guy is just as good as the guy that went down.”
Montana State held a closed scrimmage to cap off week three of spring ball, which was the team’s first game simulation since the FCS Championship. While head coach Brent Vigen said there is still growth to be had, he did share that Sumner had the longest run Friday afternoon.
“There are some big names that have toted the rock here, and I think it’s really special anytime you get to carry the ball you represent Montana State," Sumner said.