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2022 Northwestern football position previews: Running backs

There is unparalleled depth in this year’s core.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Returning starters: Evan Hull (Jr.), Cam Porter (Jr.)

Key losses: None

Returners: Andrew Clair (Grad), Anthony Tyus III (So.), Connor Newhouse (Jr.), Marcus Cisco (Jr.), Jake Arthurs (Jr.)

Newcomers: Joseph Himon II (Fr.)

The running backs have gone from being one of the most questionable groups on the team in 2021 to one of the most experienced in 2022. Bringing both Evan Hull and Andrew Clair back along with Cam Porter from injury and adding MaxPreps Arkansas Player of the Year Joseph Himon should give fans optimism for what this group can accomplish this season.

Obviously, Porter’s health is a big question mark, as he missed the entirety of the 2021 season with a lower-body injury. If he isn’t at 100% before NU heads to Ireland, though, there will be more than enough capable and experienced backs to pick up the load.

Hull had a career year as the feature back in Mike Bajakian’s offense last season with Porter out, posting 1009 rushing yards and seven TDs. Andrew Clair and Anthony Tyus III also proved themselves as capable rotation options, and will likely see similar usage again this season. Himon is somewhat of an x-factor as we haven’t seen him yet at the college level, but his ability to contribute as a pass-catcher could see him receiving playing time as a true freshman, much like Porter and Tyus III did in recent years.

Key Player:

Cam Porter

The junior from Cincinnati established himself as the lead back during the second half of the 2020 season, putting together excellent performances against Illinois, Ohio State and Auburn, all while still being a true freshman. It seemed likely he would build off of that last season, but he suffered a season-ending injury in summer camp. It remains to be seen whether he’s still able to perform at the same level he was pre-injury, but if he is, he’ll be the primary back this season.

Porter has a great blend of speed, vision and physicality, and he’ll be crucial to any potential success the offense has this year. With uncertainty at quarterback and a less experienced receiving core, consistency and dependability from Porter would go a long way (and another 150-yard, two TD performance against Illinois would be nice as well).

Big Question:

How does RB coach Lou Ayeni get everyone enough touches?

As was alluded to earlier, Northwestern has five guys who are good enough to fill one of the two spots on the two-deep. While depth is always welcomed, especially at a program that has historically struggled to have more than one capable player at a position, this group is almost too deep. Porter and Hull have both shown they’re deserving of 20 touches a game, so it’s likely one of them will have to accept a more secondary role than they’d like, and that could have potential ramifications down the line with the current transfer rules. The easiest solution might be to redshirt Himon, but he’s almost too talented to not be involved in some capacity with the offense this year.

The battle for playing time is going to be an interesting puzzle the coaches will have to piece together by the time the season starts, and summer camp might do most of the work for them. If someone isn’t keeping up with everyone else, it’s not a big deal to drop them down the depth chart and get others more involved because this group is so deep.

Depth Chart:

Projected 2022 RB Depth Chart

Position Player
Position Player
1st String Cam Porter
2nd String Evan Hull
3rd String Anthony Tyus III/Joseph Himon/Andrew Clair