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WVU Football 2024 Position Group Preview: West Virginia RB Room Full of Hype, Pressure



WVU Football RB Jahiem White celebrates TD

Just like with some of the best teams in program history, the WVU offense is going to go as far as its rushing attack takes it in 2024. And while the running back room has been a constant source of production for the Mountaineers, West Virginia will enter the 2024 season with extremely high expectations, largely because of one running back.

The 2023 season started off with a second-year back earning most of the attention, but the season ended with a true freshman being talked about all across the country. It was Jahiem White, not the incumbent CJ Donaldson, who was clipping off big run after big run in the final weeks of the season. In fact, White put up monster numbers in such a way that made WVU fans instantly think of Steve Slaton.

White started the year as a three-star recruit looking for an opportunity and ended it as one of the nation’s top running backs. In fact, one major outlet that evaluates player performance graded White’s 2023 season as one of the 10 best in the country.

White earned an 89.1 from PFF, which awards him the ninth highest grade among running backs. In his freshman season, White ran for 842 yards on 109 carries and scored four touchdowns. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry and added 125 more yards and two more scores as a receiver.

Jahiem White Caps Off Freshman Season Graded as One of Nation’s Best Running Backs

White’s first big game came against BYU, running for 146 yards on only 16 carries. He then really caught everyone’s attention (including a former NFL MVP) after putting up monster numbers in a win over Cincinnati. White averaged 9.7 yards per touch, totaling 204 yards on the ground and then another 75 yards receiving.

And in an era no program can ever feel completely confident a player will return, WVU was able to secure at least one more season of White. But White won’t have to do it alone in 2024. Donaldson will also be back, and unlike White, is under some pressure after facing criticism at times in 2023.

Donaldson, now a junior who emerged as an unstoppable force during the 2022 season, was forced to work on getting healthy instead of improving his game at this time one year ago. He then failed to duplicate his success as a freshman in the fall, which was most evident during a three-game slump that resulted in averages of 3.2, 3.0 and 2.8 yards per carry. Donaldson only surpassed 100 yards rushing three times all season.

Obviously, Donaldson’s season, which still resulted in 798 yards, was not all his fault. Donaldson often had to deal with defenses stacking the box against him. And to be fair, Donaldson did have his best game in the one that counted the most for fans – in a Backyard Brawl win over Pitt.

WVU Football Nicco Marchiol, CJ Donaldson, Devin Carter CJ helmet off

Kelsie LeRose/WVSN

Instead of looking to move on, Donaldson decided to stick around and reboot his stock as a Mountaineer.

The 2024 WVU offense will get to enjoy the benefits of a full offseason of White and Donaldson working on getting better. The Mountaineers should have one of the most dangerous one-two punches in the nation. And West Virginia’s two top backs bring two very different styles. White uses his small size as a tool to be elusive and hide behind the offensive line. He also possess a shiftiness and speed that can be a serious problem for any defense. On the other hand, Donaldson delivers a strength that can overpower most defenders. Donaldson’s size makes him a difficult tackle.

Add in a Big 12 Newcomer of the Week award winner of the past in Jaylen Anderson and even 2023’s redshirt freshman and former West Virginia Gatorade High School Player of the Year Judah Price and the possibilities are endless.

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