Just How Good Are Texas’ Running Backs?
The Texas Longhorns haven’t had a work-horse running back since Cedric Benson. Benson, who rushed for over 1,000 yards all four years at Texas, may have been one of the last examples in all of football of what a true work-horse back really is.
The game has changed, running back-by-committee is the new trend and there may not be a trendier team than Texas. All-time greats like Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams and Benson, may be a dying breed, in fact, the last known existence of this type of RB at Texas may have been Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 1,619 yards in 2007 during his junior season.
“But, Corey, there are plenty of 1,000 yard rushers out there.”
I’m talking about a work-horse RB, the type of RB that created the necessity for a third down RB. The type of RB that gets 24 carries a game; find me one of those please.
If you’re looking in Texas, you may be surprised to find out the leading rusher of all FBS schools is Heisman Trophy winning QB, Johnny Manziel.
Shortly after, you’ll feel extremely sorry for him when you find out he goes to Texas A&M.
It seems hard to remember but Texas wasn’t always predicated on the passing game. Although the Longhorns ranked 53rd in rushing offense last season, balancing out their air attack with a solid run game is what this team needs and they may have the best backfield in all of college football to do so.
Yes, I said the best backfield in all of college football.
An injury plagued season in 2012 held sophomore Malcolm Brown back from asserting himself into the offenses identity. The No. 1 ranked running back from the 2011 recruiting class and perennial No. 1 on the depth chart, Brown will be looking to turn 2013 into a solid junior campaign for the Longhorns. Much like Benson, Brown doesn’t have the breakaway speed but for his size and stature his strength and elusiveness is incredible.
Then there is yet another No. 1 RB, from the 2012 recruiting class, Johnathan Gray. The leading rusher for Texas his freshmen year in 2012 with 701 yards, Gray is a large portion of the speed element Texas has always had in their offense. The 5’9” RB reminds me of Williams; his size can be deceiving. If Gray finds open space between the LBs and DBs he can turn up field in a heartbeat. He has the ability to break tackles at the line of scrimmage and out in the open and has also proven himself as a dual-threat back with his ability to catch out of the back field.
Although Joe Bergeron may not have had the same blue chip accolades as his counter parts he still found a way to rack up 16 touchdowns last year during his sophomore season, the most of any Longhorn. Bergeron found his niche in the offense becoming the goal line option for Texas and short yardage situations because of his ability to power through defenders. He may not have a highlight reel as amazing as Campbell and although nobody has ripped off his jersey trying to take him down, Bergeron is a beast. He will break multiple tackles with one of the best stiff arms I have ever seen and then carry one or two defenders an extra two or four yards before going down and, yes, much like Brown and Gray he has a little bit of speed to top it all off.
The Dark horse in all of this is sophomore Daje Johnson. The only real speed Texas has seen rushing the ball since Charles departure to the NFL has been end-arounds to WR Marquise Goodwin and kick returns from D.J. Monroe. Johnson has been clocked at 4.34 on his 40-yard dash time and on the first play of the game against Baylor last season the freshman scored on an 84-yard run that was more of a sprint. With limited carries available it wouldn’t shock me to see Johnson lined up in the slot as well.
These four are almost like Williams, Campbell, Benson and Charles splitting carries!
Alright, that may be a bit overzealous and unrealistic.
Maybe none of these RBs have careers at Texas worthy of a Heisman or a statue outside of DKR, they will, however, have an emphatic impact on Saturday’s this fall that should directly correlate to an explosive Texas offense.
Man, if only Oregon commit Dontre Wilson would reconsider before signing day next week and visit Texas.
Now that would be a backfield.