Running back room no longer a concern
After losing the top three running backs from 2023, Gonzales and Carter brought two of the Mountain West's top 10 rushers to Tucson.
Croskey-Merritt, after spending one season in Albuquerque, is following his former head coach down to Tucson. Gonzales' hiring as Arizona's special teams coordinator was undoubtedly a big factor in landing the 5-foot-11, 200-plus-pound back, who chose Arizona and the new staff over the old guard that's now up at Washington. Crosket-Merritt seems poised to take up the starting spot and become Arizona's primary rusher.
Croskey-Merritt was the Mountain West's third-leading rusher with 1,190 yards and second-leading scorer with 17 rushing touchdowns. His lone season in the Mountain West saw him earn second-team All-Mountain West honors. Before his breakout year, the Montgomery, Alabama, native spent four seasons with FCS Alabama State where he amassed 1,253 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.
Conley, like Croskey-Merritt, was one-and-done at his previous school and is following one of his former coaches to Arizona. Brennan and the staff can thank Carter for pulling this one off. Conley has a more compact size profile than Croskey-Merritt — 5-foot-10 and just over 205 pounds — and has shown off a different, more well-rounded skill set. Conley profiles to be the second in a three-man rotation at running back that has worked well for Arizona for years, so expect to see him on the field.
Conley spent 2023 as the backup to one of the Mountain West's best running backs in Kairee Robinson, who posted over 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. Despite stiff competition for snaps, Conley still finished last season with 842 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He also added 269 receiving yards to bring his season total to over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. He transferred to San Jose State following a 1,092-rushing-yard season, so he'll be joining Arizona fresh off of two consecutive thousand-yard years for two different schools.