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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Solid Big 12 RB class prepping for 2014


Only one true running back in the Big 12 was drafted last season. Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle led the Big 12 in rushing and went to the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round.

Next season, it could be a more productive draft for Big 12 running backs. Colleague Mel Kiper released his list of his top running backs Insider in the 2014 class, and two from the Big 12 made the cut. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas topped the list, but the Big 12's best returning running back is Lache Seastrunk at No. 2. Coincidentally, he transferred to Baylor from Oregon because he wouldn't be able to earn playing time behind Thomas.

Kiper likes Seastrunk's explosiveness in the open field, but like anybody who's seen him play, has concern about Seastrunk's tendency to think big and bounce outside, risking a loss instead of hitting an available hole and taking a 3-4 yard gain.

Seastrunk's absurd 7.7 yards per carry from last year make it clear why he has that tendency, but it'll be interesting to see how much he's grown and if he can keep up the crazy pace of last year, when he hit 100 yards five times in six games to close the season.

Juco transfer Damien Williams broke out in a crowded Oklahoma backfield last season, busting big runs in big spots for the Sooners. Look no further than the season opener, when he sealed a difficult win over UTEP and a blowout win over Texas. He doesn't have big speed, but his tendency to do that is uncanny. Kiper loves his vision and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

A couple other guys to look out for next season: Texas' Malcolm Brown and Kansas' James Sims. Brown, a junior, will be eligible after next season, and if he plays well and grabs the majority of the carries away from Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron, I'd expect him to leave. He's got NFL back written all over him, and considering the shelf life of running backs in this game, it's never a bad idea for a running back to leave early if his stock is even in decent shape.

Nobody's had a bigger workload the past couple years than Sims, and he's a big guy I'd expect to get drafted if he stays healthy and has anything close to a season like he did in 2011 and 2012. There were times last year he looked better than Randle before Seastrunk's explosion.

Before the 2012 season, it was really difficult to find a single back worthy of the second All-Big 12 spot opposite Randle. That won't be the case this year. It's a much better, more experienced group.