Now that spring ball has ended, we'll be updating our rankings of the Big 12 position groups over the next two weeks. We continue the series today with a closer look at the running backs:
1. Oklahoma (pre-spring ranking: 1): The Sooners still have an embarrassment of riches with the powerful Samaje Perine and his speedy backups. Joe Mixon played up to the hype during his debut in spring ball, and Alex Ross is still just as explosive. Intriguing freshman Rodney Anderson went down with a sprained MCL, but OU is doing just fine in the depth department.
2. Baylor (2): Shock Linwood is one of the Big 12’s most accomplished backs and still had to keep fighting all spring to keep his starting job. The Bears will keep rotating in Devin Chafin and Johnny Jefferson, who need to stay healthy, and freshmen Terence Williams and Ja’Mycal Hasty should push for reps this fall.
3. TCU (3): Gary Patterson continues to list Aaron Green, Kyle Hicks and Trevorris Johnson as the co-starters on TCU’s depth chart because they’re going to enjoy a true rotation at running back. They’re hoping to have Shaun Nixon healthy for fall camp too. As long as Green isn’t hampered by the hamstring issue he dealt with this spring, he’ll break out in a big way.
4. Texas Tech (5): Running back is by far Tech’s biggest strength exiting spring. De’Andre Washington is one of the conference’s best and most prolific all-purpose backs, but it’s the growth of his three young backups that makes this group look great. Justin Stockton was dominant at times this spring, and Quinton White and Demarcus Felton will make plays. ESPN 300 signee Corey Dauphine is coming soon too.
5. West Virginia (4): Dana Holgorsen and his coaches will keep pushing Rushel Shell, who needs to become consistently great. Wendell Smallwood is still far too underrated, and WVU will have some fun unleashing Donte Thomas-Williams and converted slot receiver Jacky Marcellus as their change-of-pace backups.
6. Texas (6): Johnathan Gray looks better than ever now that he’s 100 percent healthy. Don’t sleep on sophomore D’Onta Foreman, who stepped up in UT’s spring game. He’ll team with Donald Catalon to provide support for Gray, and Texas has three talented freshmen on the way that will get a shot to play right away if ready.
7. Oklahoma State (8): Rennie Childs made a case for why he can lead this group with a standout spring game performance. Until juco transfer Chris Carson arrives, though, Childs doesn’t have much competition. Sione Palelei is still coming back from an ACL tear and Todd Mays also dealt with injuries in his first spring with the team.
8. Kansas State (9): K-State is counting on competition to improve its situation. Dalvin Warmack, Justin Silmon, Alex Barnes and Jarvis Leverett Jr. will keep pushing to unseat leading rusher Charles Jones this summer and fall. All five need to keep making progress after no true star emerged this spring.
9. Kansas (7): Leading rusher Corey Avery is suspended indefinitely and his future at KU is “uncertain,” per David Beaty. If the promising sophomore doesn’t return, the Jayhawks will have to roll with Ke’aun Kinner, Taylor Cox and De’Andre Mann. Kinner fared well this spring and brings exciting speed, but it’s tough to know what to expect from that trio.
10. Iowa State (10): This unproven group couldn’t afford to lose anybody to injuries, but Martinez Syria was sidelined this spring after a neck injury. Tyler Brown and Mike Warren will keep sharing the workload for now. Incoming freshmen Joshua Thomas and Sheldon Croney will be thrown right in the mix to play as soon as they show up.