Johns Hopkins' stable of running backs could help J.D. Abbott's healing process

JD Abbott has missed Johns Hopkins' last two games with an undisclosed injury, but with the way several backups are playing, the senior running back won't have to rush back.

In Abbott’s absence, freshman Stuart Walters has 28 carries for 190 yards and two touchdowns, sophomore Brandon Cherry has rushed 24 times for 186 yards and one score, and freshman Dionisio Roman has run 19 times for 91 yards and one touchdown.

That depth at running back offers the No. 14 Blue Jays (6-0, 5-0 Centennial Conference) the chance to ease Abbott’s recovery process and make sure he is fully healthy for the latter half of the season.

“We always tell our guys that we would rather have them come back a week later than a day early,” coach Jim Margraff said after Johns Hopkins had dusted Dickinson, 42-17, at Homewood Field on Friday night. “We want them healthy when they get here. But from a game plan perspective, it’s nice when you’ve got some real good backs, and we’ve got more after them that are pretty good, too. So it’s a good group right now.”

With 152 yards against the Red Devils and 471 on the season, Cherry overtook Abbott (326) as the team’s leading rusher, but Abbott still leads the offense with seven rushing touchdowns. Cherry, a Parkville native and Boys’ Latin graduate, said the backs miss Abbott’s leadership.

“He’s a senior and he’s been around the college game longer than us,” Cherry said. “We learn a lot from him, but the coaches prepare us like we’re all starters to do what they want us to do.”

Walters, who has 335 yards rushing this season, dismissed the notion that the pressure is on the running back position to contribute in Abbott’s absence.

“It just gives us a little boost because we know that we can’t rely on him to get us those 1-yard gains and short-yard runs for first downs,” Walters said. “So it just gives us a boost to be better. It makes us work harder in practice because we know we have to pick up the slack with him not being there.”

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