The backs are a group that has some depth this spring, but the group is not as experienced as would be hoped heading into the 2012 season. There are three backs returning this spring as Jerrell Rhodes has lettered the last two seasons, and Joe Price and Artaves Gibson were thrown into the fire as true freshmen in 2011 because of lack of depth at that position. Also in the mix is Carl Harris, who redshirted last season. Rhodes was injured much of last season and only saw action in three contests, toting the ball just 30 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns. He and QB Taylor Reed are the only two returning Tigers to rush for multiple TDs in 2011. Gibson played in 11 games and made two starts in '11. He logged 316 yards on 104 carries, while Price, who played in seven games, carried the ball 15 times for 16 yards. All three of those backs are also capable of catching the ball and making plays, as Gibson led the group with nine receptions for 46 yards in 2011.
Production and ball security will be key for this group in the fall. Over the last two seasons, the Tigers have used a running back-by-committee approach and have averaged under three yards a carry in both of those seasons. In 2010 Memphis logged just five rushing TDs, and doubled that total in 2011.