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Oklahoma State Football 2011: Replacing Kendall Hunter

The Oklahoma State offense might be returning ten starters, but none of them come from the backfield. Will the Cowboys be able to find a replacement for All American Running Back Kendall Hunter, who finished the 2010 season with 1,548 rushing yards and 16 TD's?

The short answer is, absolutely. But who will it be?

The Offensive Line

Leading the way for the OSU Running game season will be an offensive line that allowed less than a dozen sacks last season. OSU Insider Brandon Chatmon says multiple OSU coaches think that this is the best the offensive line has ever been. That's really saying something but when you consider that they are 2 deep at every position, it's not a stretch. Success is the running game starts here, and I expect big things.

Joseph Randle, 6-1, 191

It's hard to believe that Randle was a true Freshman last year. The versatile back was prominent in the running and passing game and even came up big on kick returns. He finished last year second on the team in rushing, (behind Hunter), fourth in receiving, second in kick returns and seventh in overall scoring.  There were times last year when he looked better than Hunter. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and get YAC is amazing. He should be in line for a big year.

Jeremy Smith, 5-10, 205

Smith really came on stong at the end of last season. 182 of his 262 yards on the season came in the last five games. He's proven to be excellent in short yardage situations (7 TD's last year) but I really think he's more than just a short yardage back. His 28 yard touchdown run against Oklahoma should be a good sign of things to come, and the short yardage skill set always comes in handy. Don't be surprised if Jeremy Smith is the feature back this year.

Kye Staley, 5-10, 213

Perhaps the feel good story of the year. A talented recruit of of Guthrie, OK. He was lost to a horrific knee injury in Fall Camp of 2009. Quit the team when doctors said he might not every play again. Made the decision to come back and rehab and it looks to have paid off. Staley finished the Spring strong, and looks to be in the mix at running back.

Herschel Sims, Desmond Roland

Both of these guys are freshman, with Sims being the bigger brand name of the two. Most of Sims hype is from a big junior season as his senior season was plagued with injuries. All reports though are that this kid is very good.  Roland is an exciting prospect as well although he was recruited as both a running back and a receiver. It remains to be seen how this will shake out but there's tremendous talent here. One, or both, should have an impact  this year.