LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- There really wasn't going to be much of a running back competition at Louisville football's fall camp, and then Michael Dyer showed up.
The player who broke Bo Jackson's freshman rushing record at Auburn in 2010 with 1,093 yards, before adding a BCS Championship Game MVP trophy that same season, has now made the competition in the backfield the biggest position battle in camp for the Cardinals.
"Adding Michael to that room has upped the ante and created great competition, said UofL offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. "He gets football easy. It comes easy to him. He's a natural football player."
That's about the extent of what Watson said he could tell in regards to Dyer through two days of practice.
Dominique Brown and Senorise Perry were the co-starters on the depth chart entering camp, with Perry coming back from a torn ACL after rushing for 705 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns in 10 games before suffering the injury November 10h at Syracuse.
"The thing that I'm probably most excited about and really a little in awe about is how fast Senorise has come back," said Watson, "because you can't tell there's anything he's ever been through."
Head coach Charlie Strong said Monday, a day before Louisville opened camp, that Perry would be worked into practice slowly coming off the injury. That definitely wasn't the case the first two practices Tuesday and Wednesday, taking full reps in every practice period, including 11-on-11.
"The competition is going to be tough either way it goes," said Perry, when asked if he tried to participate more in practice with Dyer now added to the running back competition. "I pushed myself just to get back healthy, so I can get back with my teammates and help them out. So we can go try and win a championship."
"We told him there'd be two guys that roll off this injury if he comes back this fast - (Senorise Perry) and Adrian Peterson," said Watson. "We said Adrian Peterson is the exception. He's a freak. Senorise asked me last night if he was (a freak), and he's categorized as one now."
The healthy co-starter is Dominique Brown, who redshirted last year but had a strong spring. He sent out this tweet July 29th when speculation grew that UofL would add Dyer.
"Man everyone wants to hyped this guy up all I kno is my boys and I AINT GOT NO WORRIES man! and thats real talk @SenoriseP @BrandonRadcliff"
"I think everybody was, a little, over-exaggerating the conversation, over-exaggerating the whole thing," said Brown at media day Wednesday when asked about the tweet. "Dyer, he's a great guy. I mean he's coming in. He's going to help the offense right away. We've been out there two days. He's doing a great job. He's come and asked me and Senorise for guidance. ‘What do we do here? What do we do there?'"
In addition to Brown, Perry, and Dyer, Corvin Lamb and Brandon Radcliff are also in the mix for playing time.
Last season, Perry and the now departed Jeremy Wright received the bulk of the work, with Lamb sprinkled in as the change-of-pace back.
So Watson may be right that the ante has been upped in the running back meeting room at Louisville with five capable backs, but if last year is any indication, there's only room for two or three in the normal rotation.
And Michael Dyer will only get better with each passing practice.