Friday, July 12, 2013
Big 12 position rankings: Running backs
By David Ubben
We're moving forward with the next position ranking in the Big 12: Running backs. Depth is a big issue here, so teams with more will obviously slide up a bit. Let's get to it.
More preseason position rankings.
Johnathan Gray is part of a deep group of running backs that Texas will feature in 2013.
1. Texas: In terms of pure talent, nobody's got anything close to Texas' depth. It has four backs who could start for almost any team in the Big 12, headlined by Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, who were the Nos. 2 and 7 overall recruits in their respective recruiting classes. Joe Bergeron is a goal-line battering ram and Daje Johnson is one of the fastest players in the Big 12. This group is incredible and has the talent to carry Texas to a Big 12 title. It grabs the No. 1 spot because of its depth.
2. Baylor:Lache Seastrunk is the Big 12's best back and Glasco Martin would be an above-average starter for most of the rest of the Big 12. The duo was just shy of 2,000 rushing yards last season but should clear it easily in 2013. They're the best 1-2 punch in the Big 12.
3. Oklahoma: Oklahoma doesn't have an elite runner, but Damien Williams is very close, and the Sooners have a ton of talent behind him, even if it's been mostly potential to this point. Brennan Clay and Roy Finch are starter-quality backs and freshman Alex Ross could get a few touches this season.
4. Kansas: This is the biggest strength of a Jayhawks team trying to rebuild. KU's been strong here even under Turner Gill, but never stronger than it is right now. James Sims is the headliner coming off a 1,000-yard season, but the depth here is silly. Tony Pierson is one of the league's best home-run hitters and Darrian Miller is back on the roster after a strong freshman season and being dismissed from the team before the 2012 season. If Brandon Bourbon can stay healthy he could contribute and Taylor Cox is a decent reserve, too.
5. West Virginia: The Mountaineers got a big pickup in Houston transfer Charles Sims, and he joins a pair of solid scat backs in Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie. Buie led WVU with 850 yards last season and if Garrison can get healthy again, he'll provide another great starting option.
6. TCU: The Frogs got robbed at this position last year by injury, but Waymon James (875 yards, six touchdowns in 2011) is back from a knee injury and Nebraska transfer Aaron Green's shiftiness and speed has TCU fans excited. Last year's leading rusher, B.J. Catalon, returns after rushing for 584 yards last season. It'll be interesting to see if incoming recruit Kyle Hicks earns any playing time.
7. Iowa State:Shontrelle Johnson should be healthy and prove himself again as the team's most talented back, but James White led the team with 505 yards last season and Jeff Woody is incredibly difficult to bring down when he gets a head of steam upfield. Juco transfer Aaron Wimberly has lots of potential and a strong spring game performance from DeVondrick Nealy got ISU fans fired up.
8. Oklahoma State: It feels a little silly to have OSU this far down the list, mostly because Jeremy Smith may well lead the Big 12 in rushing. Still, he's never had more than 700 yards in a season and will have to get used to being a featured back. Desmond Roland is a great backup, but behind him, OSU doesn't have any reliable options, unless you want to count Kye Staley at fullback.
9. Kansas State: John Hubert has a shot to win the Big 12 rushing title, but a lack of depth caused K-State's slide down this list. Hubert is solid, but the group behind him isn't strong. Angelo Pease is gone, but no other player on K-State's roster has logged a season with double-digit carries. Robert Rose and DeMarcus Robinson will have to change that this season.