2014 National Signing Day / Pitt Football Recruiting: Running back position one to watch for Panthers with Chris James and Qadree Ollison

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

With the decommitment of Wade Freebeck recently, we've talked a little about the dearth at quarterback for Pitt. One position that's not thin on players, though, is running back.

Pitt returns their top three running backs from last season in Isaac Bennett, James Conner, and Rachid Ibrahim. Whether all of those guys stay in the backfield is another question for another time, but for now, the Panthers have those three guys back there.

Now, enter incoming freshmen Chris James and Qadree Ollison to the mix. Both are talented recruits in this year's class and James is a four-star talent. One of those guys could get a redshirt in theory, but given Paul Chryst's use for backs, there's also the chance we see both of them.

When it comes to playing immediately, both are expecting to see time this year. James said as much last year after he committed and and Ollison has indicated that the chance for playing time was also a factor in coming to Pitt.

Chryst loves to use numerous backs, obviously, but if all of the remaining three stay in the backfield, finding time for all five will be some juggling act.

The competition will be something to watch. Conner came on a bit last year, but still had his struggles at times. Ditto for Bennett who wasn't too consistent, either. It's hard to imagine both of those guys not getting carries but James and Ollison will push them to be sure. Chryst showed he wasn't afraid to rely heavily on Conner as a true freshman even with the upperclassmen Bennett on the team. 2014 could again be another year for freshmen running backs.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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