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2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs

2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs

A New Group Of Backs

Hello everyone and welcome back to the second in our series looking at the 2024 Wildcats. Spring practice is underway as Mark Stoops‘ begins his 12th season in Lexington. With Nick Saban’s retirement that makes Stoops the elder statesman. In case you missed it you can check out our first installment looking at Brock Vandagriff and the quarterbacks. This time out we’re moving farther back in the backfield with our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs.

Thanks For Your Service

Before we look to the future, let’s look to the past and see who’s gone from 2023. Most notably that list starts with Ray Davis. In his one season at Kentucky Davis set a school record with 21 total touchdowns, 14 rushing, and seven receiving. His 126 total points put him second in the SEC and sixth in the nation. Furthermore, he finished fourth in the league with 1,129 yards on the ground.

In addition to Davis, Ramon Jefferson’s college career is over after seven years and JuThan McClain entered the transfer portal. Though as of this writing, McClain hasn’t found a new school. Jefferson ran for 184 yards a season ago while McClain added 138.

As we continue with our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs let’s look at the players who’ll be carrying the load for the Cats.

Finally A Lead Back

For a second straight year, the Wildcats hit the transfer portal looking for help. Chip Trayanum moved down from Ohio State to Kentucky. A former four-star recruit from Akron, Ohio Trayanum originally signed with Arizona State coming out of high school. In two years with the Sun Devils, he ran for 692 yards and 10 touchdowns. Before the 2022 season, Trayanum transferred back home to Columbus, as a linebacker. However, that didn’t last long and he was back at running back pretty quickly.

Serving as the primary backup to TreVeyon Henderson, Trayanum rushed for 383 yards and three touchdowns in 2023. One score in particular was a huge one for the Buckeyes. Trailing Notre Dame late in the fourth quarter and with Henderson ailing with an injury Trayanum took it in from one yard out giving OSU a three-point win. He’s never been the main back but tells reporters he’s ready to carry the load.

An Expanded Role

Demie Sumo-Karnbaye followed Devin Leary from North Carolina State to Kentucky last year. He ended up splitting time at running back and wide receiver. Demie ran for 139 yards and a touchdown and added 14 receptions for 69 yards and another score. He starts the spring as the backup to Trayanum and should see a much bigger role in 2024.

Behind Tryanum and Sumo-Karnbaye there’s not a lot of experience at the position. As we continue with our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs let’s look at the rest of the room.

Talented But Inexperienced

La’Vell Wright ran for 120 yards in a limited time in 2022. However, he missed all of last season due to an injury. Now back healthy the junior will be competing with Jamarion Wilcox for reps in the spring. Wilcox, a three-star player in Kentucky’s 2023 class, didn’t have any carries last year but the staff is high on his potential.

The Wildcats also have incoming freshman Jason Patterson. Hailing from Florida Patterson ran for over 3,800 yards and 50 touchdowns over the last two years. He’s getting an early start on his college career as an early enrollee. UK also has Tovani Mizell, another Florida native, in the 2024 class. However, he won’t be on campus until the summer.

Final Thoughts

Heading into the spring Kentucky has a talented but inexperienced group. Trayanum is definitely number one on the depth chart but he’s never been the lead back in his college career. Demie is likely your second running back but after that, there’s a big drop-off in experience. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats go after an experienced back when the post-Spring portal opens up.

Thanks for checking out our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs here at Last Word On College Football. Next time we’ll look at arguably the most talented group on the team, wide receivers.


2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Running Backs
Photo courtesy: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


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