College Terps Terps Football

Maryland’s young running back duo is a key role to the offense

Harrison and Johnson are becoming a dynamic duo in the backfield, and defenses should be worried.

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If you ever got the chance to go to Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon over the past four years, you got to witness the talent former DeMatha Catholic running back Lorenzo Harrison holds.

The 5-foot-8, 185 pound athlete was a major problem for teams in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference as he blew past defenders with his speed and ability to avoid being hit. Almost every time he was on the field, Harrison was due to help the Stags be in a position to win.

Prior to the start of the Maryland football season, it didn’t look like Harrison would see a lot of time with the Terps offense. Now the team is seven games into the season, and Harrison has been one of the top offensive weapons in offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense.

He currently leads the team in carries (65), rushing yards (502) and touchdowns (5). Harrison is fifth among freshmen in the nation in yards per game with 71.7. He is the first freshman in Terps history to score a rushing touchdown in his first four games, and he is on track to break LaMont Jordan’s freshman record of 689 rushing yards in a single-season.

“Lorenzo is doing a great job,” Terps head coach DJ Durkin said after the Michigan State game. “He competes and plays hard.”

Harrison recorded his first 100 yard game in the 28-17 win over Michigan State on Saturday as he rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown. In the third quarter, Harrison was able to avoid the Spartan defense and break loose for a 37-yard run. His dominating performance led him to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

What makes Harrison a special player is his speed, and ability to get past defenders by breaking tackles and using various juke moves. We have seen Harrison turn plays around by breaking a few tackles and running for 40 or more yards. That’s why he is ranked the 10th best freshmen in college football by Pro Football Focus. 

“Just by stature, he’s a very tough guy to tackle,” Durkin told Rivals.com. “He’s very thick and compact. He’s got great, explosive short-area quickness. He’s been blessed with a lot of talent and ability.”

Harrison success this season has made him one of the top freshman in the nation and develop a dynamic running back duo with Ty Johnson, who rushed for 121 yards against the Spartans. 

“When they get the ball in their hands, there is always an opportunity for a big play,” Durkin said. “You can see the energy they have when the ball is in their hands and from a defensive standpoint, you worry about that when facing a team with guys like them.”

Johnson has rushed for 482 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for a season high 204 yards and two touchdowns in the 50-7 win over Purdue on Oct. 1. Johnson leads the team in yards per carry, and had a career long 66-yard touchdown catch against Penn State on Oct. 8. 

Maryland is third in the Big Ten with  249.6 rushing yards per game. The Terps running back rotation has been vital role to the team this year and they look to continue to benefit from it.

“I think that’s a strength of ours,” Durkin said to Rivals.com. “I think it helps all of those guys be able to stay fresh and run the way they are. So we’ll keep the rotation going.” 

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