Throughout the history of Colorado football, there have been some great running backs to come through Boulder.
All the way back to Kayo Lam and Byron "Whizzer" White in the 1930s, CU has had a tradition of stellar backs, including Charlie Davis, James Mayberry, Eric Bieniemy, J.J. Flannigan, Chris Brown, Rodney Stewart and, of course, the late Rashaan Salaam, who won CU's only Heisman Trophy in 1994.
Coming into this season, senior Phillip Lindsay has a chance to do something none of the greats ever did.
Lindsay rushed for 1,189 yards last season and could become the first player in CU history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Bieniemy, CU's all-time leading rusher and one of the men who recruited Lindsay to Boulder, is the only player in program history with two 1,000-yard seasons (1988 and 1990).
A Denver native, Lindsay could put himself among the top three rushers in CU history with a great season, and he could wind up among the top 15 in receptions, as well.
It's not history that Lindsay is chasing, however. One of the most versatile running backs in the country, the three-time captain is aiming to help the Buffs (10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 last year) enjoy another great season.
He knows he's one of the keys to making that happen and has spent his offseason aiming for a better season.
"For me, I'm never satisfied with what I've done," said Lindsay, who was third on the team with 47 receptions last year. "I'm always pushing myself to do better."
While Lindsay is the leader of CU's rushing attack, sophomore Beau Bisharat could be in line for a breakout season. While some schools wanted the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Bisharat to play linebacker, the Buffs love his potential on offense.
"We think he can be a big, powerful, good running back and he'll help us in pass protection and running the ball," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He really had a good spring and I think he'll be a guy that'll play at running back for us this year. I think he's got a chance to be good."
BuffZone.com is previewing each position group for the Buffaloes. In this installment, we take a look at the running backs.
Position: Running backs
Returnees: Michael Adkins II (Sr., 5-10, 205); Beau Bisharat (So., 6-2, 215); Kyle Evans (Jr., 5-6, 175); Tanner Grzesiek (Sr., 5-10, 200; walk-on); Donovan Lee (Sr., 5-9, 180); Phillip Lindsay (Sr., 5-8, 190).
Additions: Alex Fontenot (Fr., 6-0, 190); Riley Hillis (So., 6-0, 220; walk-on).
Losses: Dino Gordon (left team); Troy Lewis (left team); Joey Tuggle (graduated).
2016 recap: Phillip Lindsay had the best season by a CU running back since Rodney Stewart in 2010, putting up 1,579 yards from scrimmage (1,189 rushing, 390 receiving). His 17 total touchdowns (16 rushing, 1 receiving) were the most by any CU player since Chris Brown had 18 in 2002. One of the most consistent weapons in CU's offense, Lindsay had over 100 yards of offense in 10 of CU's 14 games and he scored at least once in 10 games. Kyle Evans, a former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship before the season, was third on the team in rushing (second among running backs) with 346 yards. As a true freshman, Beau Bisharat carried just 15 times for 45 yards, but became more involved in the offense as a blocker as the season went along. Donovan Lee had 106 yards of offense in the first two games, but just 32 yards in the last 12 games and had no rushing attempts in the last nine. Michael Adkins had seven carries for 31 yards and a touchdown in mop-up time against Oregon State, but posted zero yards on just four touches in the other 13 games.
2017 outlook: If Lindsay can stay healthy, he should be one of the best running backs in the Pac-12, and one of the most versatile in the country. The Buffs love using him in the passing game, as well has handing him the ball, so he's a threat to hit the 100-yard mark in rushing or receiving on any given Saturday. With an experienced offensive line in front of him, Lindsay should have another great year. After Lindsay, the Buffs have a bunch of question marks, and it will be interesting to see who steps up if needed. Bisharat might be the next man up. While he didn't get many carries last year, coaches have been impressed with his improvement since he arrived last summer, and he could be in line for a good year. Evans was valuable as the Buffs' top backup last year, but after dislocating his hip in the spring, he needs to prove he's healthy again. Throughout his career, Adkins has at times looked like the best back on the roster, and he's got 1,175 rushing yards in his career. He's just never been able to stay healthy and has just 11 carries for 33 yards in CU's last 25 games. Lee has shown some flashes in the past, but was a forgotten man in the offense during the second half of last season, and he actually practiced at cornerback in the spring. Fontenot is a talented and big freshman. He's got the ability to do the job, but will need to prove he can learn the offense first.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.