University of Maine football coach Nick Charlton is adding more depth to the running back position after losing three backs during the offseason. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

The University of Maine added another running back to improve its depth at the position, and first-year football coach Nick Charlton said there’s more on the way.

The Black Bears announced Monday that Emmanuel Reed, a 5-foot-8, 195-pound senior, transferred to Maine from the University of Buffalo. Reed is a fifth-year senior who rushed for 1,244 yards and 10 touchdowns in 29 games for the Bulls. He’ll be immediately eligible because he’s leaving a Football Bowl Subdivision program for a Football Championship Subdivision program.

His addition gives the Black Bears six running backs. “And we’re planning on getting one more,” said Charlton. “We’ve got a couple of guys we’re looking at. It’s probably going to be a younger guy. We’re trying to do a good job as a staff of looking ahead with our numbers.”

Maine lost three running backs in the offseason. Ramon Jefferson, last year’s leading rusher, was granted his release to transfer last Friday. Jefferson was arrested last February, and charged with domestic violence assault and criminal mischief – pleading guilty to criminal mischief after the domestic violence assault charge was dismissed – and was suspended for spring practices.

In addition, Charlton said Adrian Velez and Brandon Washington were removed from the team a month ago “for a violation of team rules.”

Charlton said Reed, who entered the NCAA’s transfer portal in February, visited Orono a month ago and the staff was immediately impressed. “We really liked him,” said Charlton. “He’s got good film and experience from playing in an FBS program. We felt he was the type of player who would fit in with our culture. He’s talented. He can do a lot of different things. He has good lateral quickness, can make people miss, and can get out and catch the ball out of the backfield.”

Reed, from Crestview, Florida, joins a running backs corp that has only one player – former Cheverus High standout Joe Fitzpatrick – who has actually carried the ball in a game for Maine. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Fitzpatrick was the second-leading rusher on the team last year, gaining 476 yards on 120 carries, with four touchdowns.

Senior Joe Fitzpatrick is the only returning running back with game experience for the University of Maine. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Fitzpatrick, from North Yarmouth, didn’t participate in spring practice this year while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He said he’s fine now.

“No issues,” he said. “I’m back to my maxes in the weight room and I’ve been running a lot with the team. I’m excited. I feel good.”

And he feels good about the running back situation, even with its limited experience playing for Maine. “There are a lot of changes,” he said. “It’s a little different but at the same time it’s nothing that hasn’t happened before since I’ve been here.”

Maine has a second FBS transfer at running back, the 6-1, 210-pound Jordan Rowell, a sophomore from Northern Illinois University. Rowell spent two seasons at Northern Illinois, appearing in one game as a redshirt freshman last fall. Like Reed, Rowell will be immediately eligible. He had a standout high school career at Immaculate Conception in Elmhurt, Illinois, finishing with 6,032 career rushing yards, eighth-best in state history.

“He’s a bigger back and we want multiple styles of running backs,” said Charlton. “That lets us be versatile and do a lot of different things with our offense.”

Fitzpatrick noted that the experience Reed and Rowell bring from FBS programs should benefit the team and make their adjustment to Maine’s offense easier.

The other running backs on Maine’s roster are freshman Curtis Murray, redshirt freshman Zac Bouhalloufa and junior Elijah Brooks.

Charlton said he’s pleased with the backs Maine has, even as he searches for another. Maine’s training camp begins Aug. 1.

“We’re looking at a lot of different people right now,” said Charlton. “I’m confident in the position and who we have. But it’s important for scholarship and depth reasons to be looking down the line.”

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