UVA looking for next work horse in the backfield

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- For the past two seasons Jordan Ellis carried the load for the Wahoos and now as Virginia tries to replace him, Bronco Mendenhall would like to stick to the work horse approach.

"I like the continuity and the chemistry between quarterback, running back, offensive line, I prefer that," Mendenhall said, adding he would consider a committee approach if it was best for the team.

Of the 586 carries by non-running backs over Ellis' two seasons as the starter, he accounted for 73 percent of the carries, while rushing for 1,026 yards in 2018. PK Kier leads all returnees with 32 career carries for 112 yards and is one of three backs Mendenhall is considering handing the reigns to this season.

"I hope it does shape up, I really like PK's potential and I really like Mike Hollins potential and it's one of my goals to have a clear idea by the end of camp," Mendenhall said, "Coming out of spring the player that surprised us most was Wayne Taulapapa and so he's the most reliable if we're saying today. Between those three someone I hope is the primary ball carrier."

Taulapapa saw limited game time in 2018, his freshman season, only playing special teams in seven games. Hollins is just arriving to Virginia this summer as a 3-star running back out Louisiana, where he lead his school to back-to-back state championships.

While quarterback Bryce Perkins carries a big part of the load himself -- 212 carries for 923 yards in 2018 -- he likes what each back brings to the table.

"It's going to be really competitive, all those guys are strong, all the running backs are in colors, all of them have great talent," Perkins said, "And it's great to see that so many guys have different capabilities to make plays and everyone has different assets they bring."

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