March 1, 2024

What does Alouettes running back situation look like right now?

PHOTO Pascal Ratthe, Collaboration Spéciale - montreal, Quebec - / Friday/ 11/ August/ 2023 - #

The Alouettes’ backfield will look very different heading into the 2024 season. Gone is starting running back William Stanback and veteran fullback James Tuck. So, who will be running the ball for the Als this coming season?

Both Walter Fletcher and Jeshrun Antwi signed one-year deals to return to Montreal before the start of free agency. Antwi, who is Canadian, will be on the roster. He’s a valuable contributor on special teams and he’s shown that he can be effective as a runner and a blocker on offence.  The addition of Sean Thomas Erlington should help fill the void left by Tuck on offence, but he’s also a quality blocker and he can play a factor on special teams.

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Head coach Jason Maas rarely dressed two American running backs on game day last season. The few times the Als decided to go that route, it didn’t pay off. There weren’t enough touches on offence to justify removing another American player from the roster. So, let’s assume that that will be the case again in 2024. That would typically mean that the Als would keep two American running backs (one on the active roster, one on the practice roster) and they’d have two Canadian tailbacks in Antwi and Thomas Erlington.

Which players are in the mix for the (potentially) two import running back spots?

Fletcher has been productive since being acquired in a trade with Edmonton in 2022. He’s had some big performances, but he’s also been a team-first guy. He didn’t sulk, complain, or become a distraction when he would be removed from the lineup for reasons pertaining to the ratio.

The 27-year-old deserves to go into training camp in Saint-Jerome as the top back on the depth chart.

“For me, being in the system last year, I feel like it’s always an advantage,” Fletcher said during an interview on the PodcAls in February.

“Having a year in the system gives you an advantage to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, like we saw with the receiver position last year, it’s a competition. They brought in a lot of guys. Antwi is back, and they brought in a lot of dogs from down south. Every year it’s about competing, and I’ll let the rest take care of itself.”

The four running backs that will be competing with Fletcher are Charles McClelland (Cincinnati), Stevie Scott III (Indiana), Mike Weber Jr. (Ohio State), and Marcus Williams Jr. (Louisiana Tech).

We can look at their football resumes, we can watch college highlights of each player, but it’s impossible to predict what a newcomer at any position will look like once they step onto a CFL field for the first time.

Here’s what we know about each guy:

McClelland was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2023. In his first three seasons at the University of Cincinnati, he rushed for a combined 790 yards and five touchdowns. In his final year with the Bearcats, he finished with an impressive 849 yards and seven majors, while adding 116 receiving yards.

Scott III is a power back, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 231 pounds. During his first year at Indiana, he set freshman records for rushing yards (1,137), touchdowns (10), and 100-yard games (six). He scored 10 rushing touchdowns in each of his three seasons with the Hoosiers, and he finished his NCAA career with 32 majors (30 rushing, two receiving) in 32 games, which is insane. He had stints with the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos (twice) after leaving school.

Weber Jr. was a teammate of former Alouettes receiver Austin Mack at Ohio State. Once Ezekiel Elliott left the Buckeyes for the NFL in 2016, Weber took over as the starting running back. In 13 games that season, he rushed for 1,096 yards and 9 touchdowns which was his best season. Injuries and the arrival of J.K. Dobbins brought his numbers down over his final two years at Ohio State. The 26-year-old signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, and he had stints with the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants. He was part of the Chiefs team that won the Super Bowl in 2020.

Williams Jr. spent the first four years of his college career at Appalachian State before transferring to Louisiana Tech for one season in 2021. He led Louisiana Tech in scrimmage yards with 989 (787 rushing, 202 receiving) and he scored nine touchdowns.

Again, if we use CFL logic, two of these five (including Fletcher) will stick with the team. Which two will make it? That will be decided in training camp and the preseason. This will be one of the most fascinating battles in camp.