Big 12: Fossy Whittaker
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
AUSTIN, Texas -- Colt McCoy is ready to assume the role of Texas' leading ball-carrier -- again.
The lack of a dominant running threat will likely mean that the Longhorns rely on a backfield-by-committee rotation including Vondrell McGee, Cody Johnson, Fossy Whittaker and Chris Whaley rotating carries depending on game situations.
Whittaker appears to be the most versatile player. Johnson, who weighs 245 pounds coming into spring practice, had taken the lead for the starting job before suffering a pulled muscle that forced him to miss the last part of spring practice. McGee is the most experienced back in terms of game experience and Whaley brings excitement of being the team's top freshman running back recruit.
But none of them appear ready to distance themselves from the pack, meaning that all will likely play.
McCoy, who led the Longhorns with 561 rushing yards and added 11 touchdowns, sounded ready to provide as much running as the team needs.
"I don't mind running the football," said McCoy, who was the only Big 12 quarterback to lead his team in rushing. "I would love it if we had a back who stepped up and said they wanted the ball and said to feed me the ball. The guys back there are motivated and are really trying to be effective in our offense."
The Longhorns averaged 167.5 yards per game to rank 41st nationally in rushing. It was their lowest national ranking in rushing since finishing 74th in 2002.
Coach Mack Brown has made averaging at least 4 yards per carry a goal this season. He is particularly interested in improving rushing during end of the game situations.
How much McCoy plays a part in that equation remains to be seen. But he says he's not ready to step back from the formula that led the Longhorns within a few seconds of claiming the Big 12 title last season.
"I don't want to do that much different from what we did last year. We were successful and played well," McCoy said. "I don't think we need to do something just to be different. We just need to build on what we did and be the best we can be."
Texas quarterbacks have led the team in rushing in two of the last four seasons -- Vince Young in 2005 and McCoy last season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Remember the good ol' days when the Big 12 used to feature more running backs than most major conferences.
Where have you gone Ricky Williams? And you, too, Adrian Peterson. The predominance of the spread offense now makes running backs almost an endangered species.
It's left the Big 12 with much fewer quality returning running backs than in any previous season. Even with that paucity, the conference still has a handful of backs that merit attention -- even if they clearly are becoming an endangered species with the pass-heavy offenses popping up.
Here's a look at my top 10 running backs in the Big 12 heading into the start of the season.
1. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma -- Imagine what he could do in an offense where he was featured as the team's primary major running threat?
2. Marlon Lucky, Nebraska -- His pass-catching skills are a big plus, but I'm wondering if the talk from Lincoln about the emergence of Roy Helu and Quentin Castille is to just light a fire under him.
3. Mike Goodson, Texas A&M -- Finally has the right coach to make him into the Aggies' featured running threat.
4. Chris Brown, Oklahoma -- Imagine what he could do in an offense where he was featured running threat?
5. Darrell Scott, Colorado -- Teammates are already comparing him to Adrian Peterson and even Jim Brown. Can he be that good? We'll find out soon enough.
6. Jake Sharp, Kansas -- Rushed for 821 yards in spot duty behind Brandon McAnderson last season. It will be interesting to see if he can claim the starting job in what should be a good training-camp battle against heralded junior-college transfer Jocques Crawford.
7. Derrick Washington, Missouri -- Look for Missouri to feature a tailback-by-committee grouping. But expect him to get many of the carries and to emerge as the Tigers' major threat by late in the season.
8. Fossy Whittaker, Texas -- His team is looking for a running threat to emerge. If the spring game is any indication, watch out.
10. Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M -- His personal "battle of the bulge" could turn him into more of a blocker and a receiver. But won't it still be tempting for Mike Sherman to give him the ball in short-yardage situations?