The South Alabama running game last season didn't materialize as some might have expected. Jay Jones earned the top spot and was the Jaguars' leading rusher, followed by quarterback Ross Metheny. This spring, there will be several players competing for playing time, not to mention the starting job, and it is likely only three will get significant snaps. Jones will of course be in the chase, along with Cris Dinham and long-time team member Kendall Houston, a short-yardage threat. Terrance Timmons is back as well. Newcomers Kaleb Blanchard and Xavier Johnson, both redshirt freshmen, are expected to compete for playing time. Devin Robinson will also be in the mix. With an offense that is expected to be potent - the wide receiver and tight end positions are deep and talented and the offensive line has experience and depth - the running back position is in a unique position to add diversity and options for offensive Robert Matthews and his play-calling. With this collection of players, Matthews has options in terms of styles as well. The plan is to find three or four players who can provide their particular slant to a position where improved production is hoped for and expected. That will make the competition during spring drills intense. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jay Jones, Cris Dinham, Kendall Houston, Kaleb Blanchard, Xavier Johnson, Terrance Timmons. HEAD COACH JOEY JONES: "Obviously, we've got Jay Jones and Cris Dinham who were kind of our one-two guys last year, but we've got a lot of competition at that position. That's going to be the one where there's going to be a lot of competition to fight for playing time. We've got some quality guys there and we may only be able to play about three who will play a lot. So this spring is going to be big for the running back corps.'' OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROBERT MATTHEWS: "I want Jay Jones to continue to be a presence. I want Kendall to continue to improve to try to get to be an every-down back. I want to see Terrance Timmons continue to improve; he showed flashes last year of being able to do it. And then we have some young guys with Xavier and Kaleb and they're going to be able to get more reps and show if they can contribute next year. Obviously Cris is still recovering from knee surgery and he won't be available (in spring practice).''