It is understandable why Chez Mellusi decided to place his name in the transfer portal on Monday. There is only one football, and it was going to be really hard for new running backs coach C.J. Spiller to find a way to get the football in the hands of seven different running backs.
Even with Mellusi heading off to a new team, the Tigers still have six running backs on the depth chart. Lyn-J Dixon and Kobe Pace left the spring as presumably No. 1 and No. 2 on the depth chart, followed by freshmen Phil Mafah and Will Shipley. Michel Dukes and Darien Rencher are also in the mix as there is really know clear pecking order once you get past Dixon and Pace.
“I really have not sat down and said this is the guy who is the number one starter,” Spiller said earlier this spring. “This is the spring. This is an evaluation standpoint, right now. Each and every coach does something different. It is my job to make sure I am putting those guys in there to be successful. It has been a very healthy competition.”
It was obvious why Mellusi left. As the spring wore on, just hearing from head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, as well as other players, it appeared Pace had moved past Mellusi on the depth chart.
With Dixon injured for a good bit of the 2020 season, Mellusi and Pace seemed to be the two who got much of the time when Travis Etienne needed a breather. Ultimately, it appeared Mellusi had grabbed the lead in the competition due to the amount of time and carries he was getting at the midway point of the season. Once Dixon did return, Pace’s playing time was cut.
However, in the spring it appeared Pace had passed Mellusi. It was obvious in the spring game when Dixon started for the White team and Pace started for the Orange.
Pace led all rushers in the spring game with 69 yards on six carries, while Mellusi had just 10 yards on five carries.
“They are all going to help us be successful,” Spiller said. “Once you understand that as a player, you get better as a player. I would not say we have a pecking order that says this guy is on the depth chart as the number one guy and this guy is number two. I think, I can put anyone of those guys in there and they will be ready to go and play.
“But we still have a long way to go before we have to come out with an official depth chart, but that is the beauty of this sport. All the guys in that room know that someone has to run out there first. Then some guys have to be backups. But what I always tell the guys is that they are always just one play away from being the starter.”
However, Mellusi has decided he will try to be a starter somewhere else.
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