- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson and the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse both penned stories about how Oklahoma State and Iowa State will be relying on inexperienced backfields, respectively.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has not downplayed the importance of having a prolific player at the position. It's no coincidence that Oklahoma State's best offenses have included a future NFL player at running back, most recently Joe Randle and Kendall Hunter.
The Cowboys are hoping they'll have such a player at the position in junior college transfer Chris Carson, who flipped his commitment from Georgia days before signing day.
"[Carson's] attitude's been terrific," Gundy said during Big 12 media days. "His work habits, his testing, his speed, his footwork -- all the things that we would want to see in a back that's going to be successful at this level, he's shown us to this point."
Given his recruiting pedigree and the opportunity he could have in the Oklahoma State backfield, Carson was voted the preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
"The most important is playing in the game, durability, toughness, vision, making plays, teamwork. The things that are the most difficult. But up to this point, he's shown us that he can help our football team."
Iowa State's situation is a little more muddied. The Cyclones were counting on DeVondrick Nealy and Martinez Syria to man their backfield this season, but neither are with the team.
The player to watch now in Ames is redshirt freshman Mike Warren, who rushed for more than 2,500 yards during his senior season at Lawton (Oklahoma) High School. He might have played last year had it not been for shoulder surgery. Warren has the talent to be Iowa State's every-down back and solidify the backfield.
Both programs have a proud running back tradition. Getting production at the position from unproven players figures to be critical for Oklahoma State and Iowa State as they both attempt to bounce-back from down 2014 seasons.