Louisville running backs go beyond Hawkins and Hall

Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards in 2019
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A stable of horses goes beyond its front runners.

The accomplishments of Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall are solidified heading into the 2020 season.

Hawkins became the first Louisville running back to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season since Bilal Powell in 2010 on his way to finishing seventh in the nation in rushing yards.

Hall returned kicks and shared carries with Hawkins, finishing with 501 rushing yards and five touchdowns last season.

Hawkins and Hall aren’t the only capable running backs for Louisville football this season.

“We call ourselves a stable for a reason, we have a ton of good horses,” running backs coach Norval McKenzie said.

The Cardinals displayed some depth in last Saturday’s scrimmage.

Maurice Berkley had over 200 all-purpose yards according to McKenzie. Aidan Robbins, Jalen Mitchell and Tobias Little also contributed.

With Hawkins and Hall established as proven playmakers, McKenzie said the running back core is looking for its third runner.

Capability isn’t in question as players prepare to fill-in for Hawkins or Hall.

“I feel confident in those guys behind one and two can go out there and prove to be beneficial to this team,” McKenzie said.

Berkley, a 6-foot 210-pound redshirt senior who had eight carries for 43 yards last season, took advantage of additional carries during the scrimmage.

“He did a really good job in terms of breaking tackles and catching the ball,” McKenzie said. “He is deceptively fast.”

Pass protection is the biggest issue for Louisville’s younger runners as they adjust to the college game.

Aidan Robbins and Jalen Mitchell, who both redshirted last season, are adjusting in their second year. Robbins, who is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, is more confident this season.

While he was timid last season according to McKenzie, Robbins has taken on an identity this season.

“He is improving a lot,” McKenzie said. “I always tell him he is a big dude that is fast. He has been running through people. His game has turned the corner with confidence.

At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, Mitchell is another big running back.

Although Louisville’s rushing attack ranked inside the top-25 last season nationally, McKenize doesn’t want individual accomplishments to define the group.

“Our expectations in our room is to get better every single day,” McKenzie said. “I want them to be team-oriented guys.”

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