WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University football team opened preseason camp earlier this week and is working hard toward its season opener at Campbell University on September 9. Throughout the month of August, we will take an in-depth look at each of the team's position groups, with this edition featuring the running backs.
The Hoyas will be looking to senior leadership throughout its entire offense, which lost only two starters from last season. The same goes for the team's running backs which return all five members of its group from 2016, including four upperclassmen who accounted for 96 percent of Georgetown's rushing yards. The Blue & Gray will look to the leadership and experience of two seniors and two juniors, while also adding in the youth of a sophomore and two freshmen.
"Our running backs unit is a very talented group," said Head Coach Rob Sgarlata, who is in his first season working with the team's running backs. "Each member is working very hard in the preseason to improve on a daily basis. We have a number of backs who do a variety of things well. I think on a whole they complement each other very well."
Senior Alex Valles (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) led the Hoyas last season with 104 rushes and 462 rushing yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He also finished with a team-high three rushing touchdowns. Isaac Ellsworth (Bedord, Texas/Euless Trinity) was GU's second-leading rusher, finishing with 203 yards and two touchdowns. He surpassed 100 yards in a game against Harvard when he scampered for a season-long 74-yard score.
Junior Christian Bermudez (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School) was relied upon in short yardage situations last season, finding the end zone twice and averaging 4.0 yards per carry on 29 rushes. His classmate, Carl Thomas (Floirissant, Mo./Lutheran North), will further bolster the Hoya backfield after only rushing the ball twice in 2016 due to injury. Sophomore Zacciah Saltzman (Athens, Ohio/Athens) will look to break out after not seeing game action last season.
"Experience is a big thing," Sgarlata said. "Each of the returners has provided leadership not only with the running backs group, but with the team as a whole. This group of returners understands our offense and has been working to help the freshman with the transition to the Hilltop, both on and off of the field."
Freshmen Jay Tolliver (Columbus, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln) and Jackson Saffold (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek) will both provide added depth in their first season on the Hilltop after decorated high school careers.
"Jay and Jackson are both very talented and very different backs," Sgarlata said. "Jay is very fast and has the ability to make you miss in the open field. Jackson is a bigger back who runs hard and will be able to get us the tough yards inside. We are blessed to have both of them join our unit and I am looking forward to their development as camp progresses."