Big 12: Angus Qugley

Where did Kansas' backfield depth go?

August, 12, 2008
8/12/08
5:23
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

As mentioned earlier Tuesday in my morning links, Kansas is facing a big loss after sophomore TB Donte Bean decided to move for a better playing opportunity at another school.

His departure has left what was thought to be one of the Jayhawks' biggest offensive strengths before the season into a potential question mark. Three weeks ago, the Jayhawks had seven scholarship running backs. Now they have four.

Mark Mangino's backfield woes started a week before his team reported for training camp when freshman Sean Ransburg was informed he did not pass through the NCAA clearinghouse and would be ineligible this season. And on Sunday, sophomore Carmon Boyd-Anderson told Kansas coaches he was leaving the team for personal reasons.

Bean and Boyd-Anderson were both heralded recruits -- the kind that Kansas had rarely attracted in recent seasons. Both said their limited use at practice was their primary reason for leaving.

The Jayhawks are stacked with options at the top with Jake Sharp, who rushed for 821 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season in relief of Brandon McAnderson. The arrival of heralded junior college transfer Jocques Crawford from Cisco Junior College brings another potential featured back into the mix. And Kansas coaches rave about the occasional production of Angus Quigley, a 222-pound bull who hasn't always been motivated earlier in his career.

In case of an emergency, Kansas is working to switch redshirt freshman Rell Lewis back to running back from wide receiver.

Sharp had a quick start last season, rushing for 100 yards in three of his first six games. But he seemed to slow down as McAnderson came on late in the season. That's where Crawford, who led all junior colleges with 1,935 rushing yards last season, might fit as he learns the Kansas playbook.

Kansas coaches have Sharp pegged as the Jayhawks No. 1 back coming into the season. It wouldn't surprise me to see Crawford make a similar late charge after he becomes comfortable in the offense.

The loss of Bean and Boyd-Anderson and Ransburg's ineligibility has clearly stripped the Jayhawks of much of their depth. They still have several options at the top of their backfield depth chart, but can ill afford an injury to one of their top players as the season progresses.

The Jayhawks will already be playing a significantly more difficult schedule this season as they pick up Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma from the Big 12 South and face a tough early season road game at South Florida. Mangino's incredibly shrinking backfield is just another item for him to worry about as he prepares for his Aug. 30 opener against Florida International.

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