The Oklahoma State Cowboys have had six straight seasons of 1,000-yard rushers with Joseph Randle being the last running back to do that for the Cowboys last year. However, Randle left early and was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft. This year, the Cowboys enter the season with senior Jeremy Smith poised to take the majority of the handoffs from quarterback Clint Chelf. If the Cowboys hope to rebound from last season’s 8-5 record they will need Smith, or another running back, to step up.
Smith is coming off an injury-riddled 2012 season that saw him rush for 388 yards and eight touchdowns. Optimism is high for Smith who was named to the preseason Doak Walker Award watchlist for the nation’s top running back. Whether or not Smith can stay in the conversation all year will rest heavily on his health.
The five-foot-ten, 210-pound running back is an excellent downhill runner and is coming off of a pretty strong finish to an otherwise disappointing year. He does rank ninth all-time at Oklahoma State with 25 career touchdowns, a total he should definitely add to this season. He should come close to Thurman Thomas’ 44 career touchdowns but he will certainly surpass 30 career touchdowns if he stays healthy. Of course, Randle had 24 touchdowns last season so Smith could easily surpass the Hall of Famer if he has a year like Randle’s last year.
Last season, the Cowboys averaged 215.3 yards-per-game on the ground and ended the season with 35 rushing touchdowns. Losing Randle will hurt but Smith has the ability to step in and keep the Cowboys’ streak of 1,000-yard rushers alive and running behind one of the top offensive lines should be a huge help. Smith should have several holes to choose from where he can use his speed to his advantage. The big question is whether or not Smith can stay healthy.