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Spring Football Preview: Running Backs and Fullbacks

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We begin our preview of each position entering spring football with an in-depth look at the running backs and fullbacks

Rennie Childs will carry the load in 2015
Rennie Childs will carry the load in 2015
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The time for spring football is upon us, and 2015 looks to be one of the most intriguing seasons to date. The 2014 season started out promising with a close loss to defending champion Florida State, but was followed by a disappointing run of games that left most fans wondering if the Pokes would miss the bowl season all together. Alas, Mason Rudolph was inserted as the starting quarterback with two games left, leading the Cowboys to a Bedlam and bowl game victory and ultimately rejuvenated the program and excited fans for what's to come next year.

The running back position entering spring practice is one of intrigue. Newly hired Running Backs coach Marcus Arroyo will look to piece together a group of backs that will have quite a different look from a season ago. The Cowboys will enter the spring without junior college transfers Chris Carson and Todd Mays, as well as freshman Jeff Carr who will all be joining the team in the summer.

Departing Players

RB Desmond Roland
Career Stats
Rushing Receiving
ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD
442 1977 4.5 27 11 78 7.1 3

Roland has been Oklahoma State's leading rusher the last two seasons. Desmond was called upon repeatedly to pick up tough yards throughout his career, particularly last season as the offense struggled to establish any consistency in the passing game under Daxx. Des was the Cowboys only power running back in 2014, often utilized in power formations to finish drives in the red-zone. Roland's experience and durability will be missed, but incoming junior college transfer Chris Carson appears to be a suitable replacement capable of becoming a great replacement for Roland's production.

RB/WR Tyreek Hill
Career Stats
Rushing Receiving
ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD
102 534 5.2 1 31 281 9.1 1
Punt Return Kickoff Return
PR YDS TD Long KR YDS TD Long
27 256 1 92 30 740 2 99

Easily the most dynamic play-maker on the field last season, Tyreek Hill was utilized in the backfield and as an inside receiver. He often times acting as a decoy to create single coverage or open up the run game. It's amazing to remember that Hill had only 2 total touchdowns on offense despite being the fastest player on the field in every game. Hill was a complete game-changer in the return game, taking a kickoff return back for a touchdown against Kansas with the game still very much in doubt. Obviously the most memorable moment for Hill was his punt return for a touchdown late against OU which salvaged the game and ultimately the season for the Cowboys. Tyreek is arguably the biggest loss on offense for Oklahoma State as there is not a player on the roster with his world class speed.

Returning Players

RB Rennie Childs

Junior | 5-10 | 205 lbs

Career Stats
Rushing Receiving
ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD
119 483 4.1 4 5 65 13 0

Childs showed signs of being a key contributor on offense his freshman year, breaking off several big runs and providing a spark late in 3rd quarter against TCU rushing for 79 yards on 10 carries. As a sophomore, Childs was utilized early on in non-conference games, as he carried the ball more than 10 times in each of the first three contests. Rennie also got the start against Missouri State, filling in for the injured Desmond Roland and rushed for 39 yards and 2 touchdowns. His production dropped off significantly in conference play due in part to injury and an increased roll for Tyreek Hill in the running game. However, he reemerged as a key contributor in the Baylor game with 8 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown, and continued his production with a strong outing in the bowl game.

Rennie is the only running back with playing experience on the roster, and the Cowboys will depend on him as a leader for this group of young backs. Considering the hype surrounding incoming junior college transfer and four-star recruit Chris Carson, look for these two to carry the bulk of the load in the backfield.

FB Jeremy Seaton

Senior | 6-2 | 250 lbs

Career Stats
Receiving
REC YDS AVG TD
8 75 9.4 3

Seaton has been used as a weapon in the passing game, as Coach Mike Yurcich likes to use the fullbacks in short yardage passing situation. Jeremy has been praised for his blocking, and has been featured numerous times in the Diamond Formation as a lead blocker. Jeremy had at least one reception in every game last year, and finished the season with a career high 4 receptions for 40 yards against Washington. Expect Seaton to continue his production as one of the primary fullbacks on the roster.

RB Raymond Taylor

Junior | 5-7 | 190 lbs

Career Stats
Rushing
ATT YDS AVG TD
18 40 2.2 0

Taylor has spent the last two seasons at running back for Oklahoma State. With Rennie Childs sidelined due to injury for several games last season, Raymond was asked to fill the backup roll and played in 4 games. With the additions of Chris Carson, Jeff Carr, and Todd Mays, expect Taylor to contribute primarily on special teams next season.

Newcomers

RB Sione Palelei

RS Freshman | 5-10 | 196 lbs

High School Stats
Rushing Receiving
ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD
169 1580 9.3 23 30 540 18 5

Palelei is mostly unknown to OSU fans, as he was red-shirted last season due to injury. Earning all district honors as a junior in high school, Sione saw his senior year cut short half way through the season due to injury carrying the ball 58 times for 752 yards and 10 touchdowns. Oklahoma State has had a history under coach Gundy with underclassmen who can come in and provide a change of pace, and Palelei looks to fill that roll with a listed 40 time of 4.35. Look for Sione to be the 3rd option behind Carson and Childs next season.

FB Britton Abbott

RS Freshman | 6-3 | 230 lbs

High School Stats
Passing Rushing
COMP ATT YDS TD ATT YDS AVG TD
222 713 5410 47 398 2098 5.3 25

Abbott was a preferred walk-on last season, and is currently listed as a red shirt freshman. Britton was a 1st-team All-State quarterback in Liberal, KS but it was generally believed that he would switch to running back or fullback. Look for Britton to contribute some at fullback and special teams next season.