February 12, 2012

Spring Preview: Running Back

With spring football less than a week away, RedRaiderSports.com is breaking down the 2012 Texas Tech football team position-by-position.

Today we continue with the running backs.

2011 RECAP

Fans may have thought the Red Raiders were pushing it when they brought in three freshmen running backs in the 2011 recruiting class.

With one game left in the 2011 season, fans wondered if Tech was going to close the season with any running backs.

Junior running back Eric Stephens was well on pace for a 1,000-yard rushing season with 565 yards and eight touchdowns in just four and a half games into the season.

That ended when Texas A&M's Damontre Moore took a shot at Stephens' knee with his helmet and consequently tore Stephens' ACL and MCL. A season-ending, compound knee injury.

Losing Stephens hurt, but fortunately the Red Raiders had depth in senior Aaron Crawford and freshmen DeAndre Washington and Kenny Williams.

There would have been even more depth if Ronnie Daniels had been on the team at that point.

With Stephens' injury Daniels probably would have worked his way into the starting role but Daniels was suspended for a violation of team rules.

Still, there was a lot of depth when Stephens went down.

Crawford was adequate in the starting role and Washington really came into his own toward the end of the season. Washington ultimately rushed for 366 yards before sustaining a torn ACL at Missouri in the second to last game of the season.

Williams, meanwhile, showed glimmers of the player he can become when he was the starting running back over Crawford who had rolled his ankle pretty severely the week before.

Even though the running back numbers dropped off after Stephens went down with his injury, there's a lot of promise at the position group for any Red Raider fan between players coming off injuries, returning talent and some versatile athletes getting reps at the running back position.


WHAT TO EXPECT

Williams and junior college transfer Sadale Foster are healthy and will see a lot of reps during spring ball while Daniels has been allowed to rejoin the team.

But the bigger story might be guys like receiver Bradley Marquez, a high school running back, and freshman athlete Javares McRoy are going to get reps in the backfield to fill the injury void.

Stephens and Washington will continue rehabbing and should be healthy for fall camp.

Any football fan hates to see what happened to Stephens and Washington, but spring ball is the perfect opportunity to raise a few running backs by giving them reps they probably shouldn't be getting this early in their career.

Williams and Daniels will be the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs in some order instead of being behind Stephens. The coaching staff is going to learn what Marquez and McRoy can bring the running back position and whether the move should be permanent or not. And although Foster was recruited predominantly as a kick returner, he's going to get a shot to prove himself at running back.

Spring ball is the perfect time for a player to step up and take their game to the next level. At the running back position, there are going to be enough reps for these developing players that someone is bound to make a splash heading into the summer.


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