JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The storyline seems like a dilapidated, broken record across every position group on Jacksonville's 2015 football squad. A returning starter with proven success, speed, football savvy, and skillful talent seem to be the common theme and the running backs and specialists are no different. It's a big reason why the hopes are sky-high for the season.
Running backs coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Webb has to feel like a medieval armorer with an arsenal of weapons. With Ulysses Bryant and Frantz Caudio returning in the backfield, and Pioneer Football League honorees Brandon Behr and Ryan Giaratano in the kicking game, there's no shortage of game changers under Webb's watchful eye.
Bryant was the workhorse in 2014 when he became the first Dolphin to rush for more than 1,000 yards since 2010. The now-junior ended the season with seven touchdowns and 1,005 yards on 164 carries.
"He's our bell cow and has a perfect build. He's all legs, has a huge neck and shoulders. There's nothing fun about tackling Ulysses. He's a bowling ball but he's got unbelievable change of direction. He's not just a plodder. For as thick and powerful as he is, he has good moves and ability to run in space," said Webb.
He's also a threat out of the backfield as one of quarterback Kade Bell's seemingly unending legion of targets. As a sophomore in 2014, Bryant caught 25 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns.
Bryant looks to add to his load this fall. The Second Team All-Pioneer Football League honoree packed on muscle this offseason and checked into fall camp at 189 pounds.
Behind Bryant on the depth chart lies another armament of the Jacksonville offense, Caudio.
The senior torched defenses for eight total touchdowns and piled up 407 yards rushing and 232 yards receiving last season.
"Frantz is a versatile and very solid guy. He's had a lot of success here and has been a playmaker for us. He can run, catches the ball well out of the backfield and has a lot of ability," said Webb. "I challenged him to be a better blocker this year so we can leave both of those guys in the game together."
Behind the veteran duo on the Jacksonville depth chart lies sophomore Jamal Adjamah. In addition to his role as a running back, the sophomore is auditioning for time in the return game.
"He's a dynamic guy and we're excited to see what he can do. He's one of the fastest guys on the team. He has a lot of ability and he's waiting for an opportunity. He's very smart and he will be ready to go," said his coach.
"I really like our two freshmen and I think they're going to be good players. They got a bunch of valuable reps in the preseason. Both are very smart and picked up the offense very quickly."
The Dolphin fullbacks, while not the primary ball carriers, remain key cogs of the offense. Matthew Passeggiata and Chris Skukalek both are solid run blockers and will look to be effective in their knowledge of the blocking and passing game.
Webb also oversees the special teams which includes the two returning starters in punter Ryan Giaratano and kicker Brandon Behr. In 2014, Giaratano earned Honorable Mention All-PFL honors and Behr was named to the Second Team All-PFL.
Giaratano led the PFL last year with 41.4 yards per punt and his longest was 67 yards against Penn
"He's gotten better punting directionally and he should have a really good year. He's one of the best overall athletes on the team and was really good in tough situations last season," said Webb.
Behr, who was named to the preseason All-PFL squad, connected on 13 of 18 field goal attempts last season and has made kicks from over 60 yards in preseason camp.
"I think he's going to have a really good year. He's an extremely hard worker and I think he is a big-time kicker. He was a weapon for us last year and he can kick the ball out of the stadium," said Webb.
The iron has been sharpened over training camp. The welding is almost complete, and come Sept. 4 at Delaware, Jacksonville fans will see exactly what's in stock.