Nov. 5, 1999

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – At the start of spring ball, we lost a talented football player in Autry Denson.

Although, I was excited about this season because we had players that we envisioned as being stars here even though they were young. I thought that Tony Fisher or Tony Driver would take Denson’s spot. I also knew that Terrance Howard was a young player who possessed a lot of potential.

As things began to evolve this season, Julius Jones has been somewhat of a surprise because he is a true freshman.

The reason why there is not a true starter is because all of these running backs are still young and evolving. The second reason is that no one has just stepped up and taken the position. That is not a negative but a positive in some ways because none of these guys have allowed someone to take it. The situation is really positive because all three of them are so talented. As we have moved forward, we have put Tony Fisher in the game along with Julius Jones and Terrance Howard.

Tony Fisher’s biggest attribute is that he gives you a lot of diversity on offense. He is big enough to do things at the fullback position, and he is a good blocker. He has really good hands, which makes him versatile. His versatility is what is going to make him a good player here. Tony may end up as a fullback someday.

Terrance Howard is more of a blade kind of a running back. He is a quick starter who is really good with his hands on the ball as well. Terrance is more of a prototype tailback. Julius Jones is also a true tailback and also has good hands. The thing about Julius is that he also a good punt returner and kickoff returner. Terrance Howard and Julius Jones have more speed and are more of the true tailback types. They both can also catch the ball.

We started the season with a lot of numbers at that position and now we have lost Darcey Levy and Tony Driver. Things have a way of working themselves out. Now you can see the young freshman stepping up and carrying the ball more. I am pleased with our tailbacks and I think the future is really bright at that position. We have some guys that are going to great players here for a long time.

With the loss of Tony Driver, an opportunity arose for another player to step forward. It was obvious in the Navy game, Terrance Howard to advantage of his opportunities, by running the football well, as well as Julius Jones. If there was any positives in that situation at all, it was that it gave another opportunity for someone at a position where we are very talented and very deep.

There is competition among those players but it is a healthy situation. They have handled the whole situation well. All of them want their hands on the football. Our coaching staff has also handled the situation well by being diversified enough to get all of them in the game.