Virginia tailbacks Jordan Ellis and Daniel Hamm have never had an opportunity this good. The junior and senior, respectively, have been buried on the depth chart in years past. But this year, they’re the ones being counted on. They’re the ones that could set the tone for Virginia’s offense in 2017.
Last season, though, Ellis had 14 rushes while Hamm had just three. Ellis picked up 65 yards while Hamm picked up 4. They were stuck behind seniors Taquan Mizzell and Albert Reid on the depth chart. The Cavaliers finished the year with a lackluster 36 plays that gained 20 yards or more. That ranked second-worst in the entire FBS.
Now, Ellis and Hamm are hoping to take advantage of their chances. Coming off a 2-10 season, they believe breaking some longer runs could be the key to turning Virginia’s season into a success, they told the Daily Press.
“Me and Hamm, we pride ourselves on making those explosive plays,” Ellis told the Daily Press, “making plays (that) change the whole game. … I feel like me and Hamm, we can do that in the backfield, catching and running.”
The two tailbacks complement each other. At 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, Hamm provides more speed. He contributed as a punt returner last season, racking up 216 yards on 22 returns, good for an average of 9.8 yards per return.
Ellis, on the other hand, weighs 225 pounds and offers the Cavaliers a different style. The two hope that Virginia can reap the benefits of their combination in the second year under coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“Explosive football is, man, it’s helpful no matter where you are … in your program,” Mendenhall told the Daily Press. “Drives require more consistency. Consistency requires more execution. Execution requires more time and habits and usually more maturity. If you have players that are capable, or schemes that are capable, of delivering a big play at any time, it takes a lot of pressure off. And it puts more pressure on the opponent.”