July 20, 2006

Ready to run wild

Pre-season football practices will be here before you know it, and it's time to start taking a position by position look at the defending champion Texas Longhorns. Up next is a very talented stable of running backs.

With or without Ramonce Taylor, the Longhorns boast one of the most talented groups of running backs of any team in the country, and the coaching staff's biggest challenge could be finding enough carries to go around.

Jamaal Charles - Outside of Adrian Peterson, Charles may be the most talented running back in the country. His performance as a freshman, in relatively limited action, was nothing short of spectacular. Charles gained 878 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on the year, and he did it while averaging 7.4 yards per carry. As impressive as his stats were, it's the way he jumped right in and got comfortable on the big stage that was the most surprising. Charles' had ice water running through his veins in a couple of UT's biggest wins, including the dramatic victory over Ohio State in Columbus.

His biggest asset is obviously his speed, but Charles' vision is also as good as any back in the country and the combination of those two factors makes him a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. He's not as physical a runner as say Cedric Benson, but Charles is strong enough to pick up yards between the tackles and move piles, and he's added some strength since his freshman year so he should be improved in that area.

Selvin Young - Like Charles, Young has the potential to rank up there with the country's best running backs. Before suffering through injuries that have plagued him the past few years, Young was a gamebreaker from the tailback position and he's reportedly back to his old form. When fully healthy, as he should be entering the season, Young is an explosive runner in the open field and he too is a threat to pop off a long run at any given time. Over the years, Young has also bulked up and he's now carrying a muscular 210 pounds on his 6-foot frame.

The key for the senior will be to stay healthy throughout the season if he wants to end his career with a bang. If he's able to avoid injuries, Young will pick up a ton of carries (it's very possible that he could even start, as he did in the Rose Bowl) and he should be able to put up stellar numbers behind a dominant offensive line. It will surprise nobody to see Young double his production from last year and top the 1,000 yard mark. Just as importantly, he's turned into one of the team's leaders.

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