Spring position battle: Oklahoma running backs

This week we've begun breaking down the big position battles that every Big 12 team will face this spring.

Below is a closer look at the running back battle at Oklahoma:

Departed: Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine

Spring contenders: Sophomore Rodney Anderson, sophomore Abdul Adams, junior Marcelias Sutton, true freshman Trey Sermon.

Summer contenders: True freshman Kennedy Brooks.

The skinny: Last season, the Sooners featured one of the most dynamic running back combinations in the country in Perine and Mixon. Perine became the school's all-time leading rusher; Mixon finished second in the country in all-purpose yardage.

With both moving on to the NFL, the Sooners have a massive void in their backfield, with a wide-open competition for carries featuring several intriguing options.

The most intriguing of those might be Anderson. When he first arrived on campus two springs ago, Anderson generated plenty of buzz and was on his way to carving out a role as a first-year player. But early in his first season, Anderson suffered a season-ending leg injury. Then last year, he was lost for the year again, this time to a neck injury.

Anderson is now healthy again. And he has impressed during winter workouts. This spring, he could establish himself as the clear favorite to take over as the starter.

Anderson, however, will have challengers.

Sermon was an ESPN 300 signee whom the Sooners plucked out of Georgia over several SEC powers. Sermon has massive potential. If he begins to realize some of that this spring, he could be a threat.

Sutton, an ESPN JC50 addition, is only 5-foot-8, 170 pounds. But while he doesn't boast every-down back size, Sutton has big-play ability and could give the Sooners some of the versatility that Mixon supplied so efficiently last year.

The last two names to watch here will be Adams and Brooks. Adams played as a true freshman last year, stepping into the No. 3 back spot after Anderson was injured. Brooks was a four-star signee who could be a dark-horse contender; he already has the patience and vision that will play well at the college level.

No matter what happens in their running back competition, the Sooners will be hard-pressed to adequately replace what Perine and Mixon gave them. But if at least a couple of the new backs step up, the Oklahoma offense will have a good chance to continue humming, especially with quarterback Baker Mayfield back running the show beside them.