This week we'll continue highlighting the key position battles for every program in the Big 12. We continue the series with Kansas State’s running back derby.
Here's where the battle stands:
What happened last season: KSU’s departed senior running backs, John Hubert and Robert Rose, combined for 1,152 of the Wildcats’ 2,314 rushing yards last season.
Hubert was outstanding as a centerpiece of the Wildcats' offense, rushing for 1,048 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. He was one reason the quarterback-receiver connection between Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett became so lethal, particularly on deep throws when the safeties found themselves unable to help cornerbacks because of Hubert’s running prowess.
His departure leaves a major void in KSU’s running game.
What they offer: It seems not much has changed since the end of spring with Jones and Robinson looking like the favorites to get the bulk of the early season carries.
Jones has never carried the ball in a collegiate game, so there are plenty of unknowns with the sophomore but he should get the chance to prove himself in the first few games of 2014.
Robinson is the veteran in the running back battle and the lone running back on the roster who has carried the ball for the Wildcats with five carries for 20 yards last season. He spent the past few seasons as an understudy to Hubert, understands the offense and provides a veteran presence in the running backs room.
Leverett had a solid spring game and should be in the mix for carries alongside Jones and Robinson.
Warmack is the newcomer of the group and has impressed enough to emerge as a candidate to play as a true freshman. Though he’s not on the road to securing a starting spot, his talent and football smarts have put him in the position to play if the Wildcats need another option at running back.
At this point K-State’s running back situation looks very much like a running back-by-committee.
Prediction: No single running back will follow in Hubert’s footsteps by eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards this fall. It wouldn’t be a major surprise to see all four Wildcats’ running backs get at least one carry in 2014 if nobody steps up and secures the job early in the season.