“Primary tailback” has been, for at least one season, an oxymoron for the UCLA Bruins. In 2016, UCLA’s rotating cast of running backs produced 84.3 yards per game on the ground, ranking the Bruins 127th of 128 major college teams. Bolu Olorunfunmi seems prepared to change that.
Olorunfunmi, a junior, has taken the bulk of reps with the first team in training camp, despite two seasons in which he has rushed for a total of 470 yards and 4 touchdowns on 106 carries.
“Bolu’s doing a great job,” Bruins running backs coach DeShaun Foster told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s got the nod right now.”
Since the departure of Paul Perkins to the NFL, UCLA has struggled to find a consistent ball carrier. Perkins rushed for nearly 3,000 yards in his final two seasons at UCLA, finding the end zone 23 times.
Perkins’ loss was bigger than what many expected. The Bruins finished 4-8 in their first season without Perkins, now a New York Giants player, in the backfield, losing six of their last seven games. Coach Jim Mora couldn’t decide on a single feature back. He split the carries between three primary ball carriers and two ancillary backs.
Soso Jamabo led the Bruins with 321 yards in 2016. That was a decent night from former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, who regularly amassed that total in his duties as a running back and receiver. Nate Starks led UCLA with 85 carries last season, averaging 3.3 yards per carry. Olorunfunmi was third on the depth chart with 71 carries, totaling 281 yards.
Olorunfunmi reportedly is setting a different tone this year, trimming his body fat by 3 percent, making for a lighter, more agile back.
“It’s fun to be lighter, and it’s kind of different to play at the weight I am than what I was before,” Olorunfunmi told the L.A. Times. “I’m more agile, I’m able to see things better in a way and I can move faster.”
Corrections: In the original story, Bolu Olorunfunmi’s last name was misspelled, and Christian McCaffrey’s first name was incorrect. DieHards regrets the errors.