- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
The Pac-12 features another strong crop of running backs -- five returning 1,000-yard rushers -- but there are also a few teams facing uncertainty at the position.
So how does it stack up?
Oregon: It's not just that the Ducks have Heisman Trophy finalist and unanimous All-American LaMichael James coming back, it's that they have Kenjon Barner and Lache Seastrunk to help carry the load. When you toss in touted incoming freshman De’Anthony Thomas -- play or redshirt? -- Oregon may have the best backfield in the nation.
Washington: Chris Polk is a workhorse who gained 1,415 yards last season -- he's also a good receiver -- and there's good depth with Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, who sat out last year with a knee injury.
Colorado: Rodney Stewart, at 5-foot-6, 175 pounds, is a diminutive workhorse. He rushed for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010. The only issue here is depth, though redshirt freshman Tony Jones had a nice spring.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils lack an elite back but they have good depth and experience returning, topped by Cameron Marshall (787 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010) and Deantre Lewis (539 yards). There's also the versatile Kyle Middlebrooks.
USC: Marc Tyler rushed for 913 yards and nine touchdowns but he's got some off-field issues. There's good talent on the depth chart behind him, though: Curtis McNeal, D.J. Morgan and Dillon Baxter. The O-line is a bigger issue for the running game.
Arizona: Keola Antolin is a solid first option, if he can stay healthy, but the knee injury to Greg Nwoko means there's no experienced depth. Daniel Jenkins had some nice carries this spring, and expectations are high for incoming freshman Ka'Deem Carey.
California: Strange to see Cal down here, eh? What in the name of J.J., Marshawn, Jahvid and Vereen is going on? Isi Sofele is No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart, but it's wide open after that, with incoming freshmen expected to be immediately in the mix.
Oregon State: The Beavers have experience with Ryan McCants, but he's struggled to break through. Sophomore Jovan Stevenson, redshirt freshman Malcolm Marable and grayshirt freshman Terron Ward are options, as is Jordan Jenkins, who missed spring with a shoulder injury.
Utah: The Utes lost their top three backs from 2010, and their top three backs heading into 2011 have no experience. But John White, Harvey Langi and Thretton Palamo showed plenty of promise this spring. It's just we don't know what they'll do when the lights go on in Pac-12 play.
Washington State: Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston are back -- they combined for 353 yards in 2010 -- and hopes are high for Ricky Galvin, who was injured early in the Cougars opening game last fall. But this is not a position of strength for the Cougars.