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CRFF Rankings: Big 12 Running Back

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Another list?

As we continue our summer football rankings, we move to the running back position. Check out our QB rankings here.

Again, I posed the challenge to members of our staff to rank the Big 12 football programs by their running back position groups heading into 2016.

Here’s what we came up with. See the bottom of the page for each contributor’s votes and be sure to let us know where we got it wrong in the comment section below.

1. Oklahoma

Projected Rotation
  • Samaje Perine - Jr
  • Joe Mixon - So
Last Year's Stats (Perine)
  • 1,349 yards (5.97 per carry)
  • 16 touchdowns
Last Year's Stats (Mixon)
  • 753 yards (6.66 per carry)
  • seven touchdowns

The Sooners pack the best returning running back duo in the league. Two future NFL backs who could probably start for just about any team in the country.

Summary

Hot take! Breaking news! You heard it here first! OU has 2 NFL guys. Both Perine and Mixon will be playing on Sundays in the future. - Austin

2. Baylor

Projected Rotation
  • Shock Linwood - Sr
  • Johnny Jefferson - Jr
Last Year's Stats (Linwood)
  • 1,329 yards (6.78 per carry)
  • ten touchdowns
Last Year's Stats (Jefferson)
  • 1,000 yards (7.35 per carry)
  • eight touchdowns

Even with the all the turmoil surrounding Waco heading into next season (including the dismissal of back Devin Chafin), we still feel pretty good about the Bear's running back depth. Two returning 1,000+ yard rushers can't hurt.

Summary

So many athletes, for now. It seems somewhat unjust that Baylor will still be as talented as they're going to be this season, but they are. And the RBs are no exception. Losing Chafin won't be much of hit. - Christopher

3. Iowa State

Projected Rotation
  • Mike Warren - So
  • Joshua Thomas - Fr
  • Mitchell Harger - Sr
Last Year's Stats (Warren)
  • 1,339 yards (5.90 per carry)
  • five touchdowns

Mike Warren was one of the hottest freshmen in the nation last season and is the leading returning rushing in the Big 12. Whatever offense first year head coach Matt Campbell and his staff install, you can be sure it will be centered around Warren.

Summary

Somehow they got someone as good as Warren to set up shop in Ames. Imagine how good he would be if he was a Longhor...oh, wait, he's actually better off in Ames. - Robert

4. Texas

Projected Rotation
  • D'Onta Foreman - Jr
  • Chris Warren III - So
  • Kirk Johnson - So
Last Year's Stats (Foreman)
  • 681 yards (7.17 per carry)
  • five touchdowns
Last Year's Stats (Warren)
  • 470 yards (6.62 per carry)
  • four touchdowns

Between Foreman and Warren, the Longhorns pack a formidable 1-2 punch from the backfield. With the lack of a clear cut starter at QB, first year offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert will try to lean heavily on a ground game that ranked third in the Big 12 last year.

Summary

Chris Warren III is a young star, and the combination of him and D'Onta Foreman should produce next season. - Austin

5. TCU

Projected Rotation
  • Kyle Hicks - Jr
  • Shaun Nixon - So
  • Trevorris Johnson - Jr
  • Sewo Onolinilua - Fr
Last Year's Stats (Hicks)
  • 262 yards (4.68 per carry)
  • three touchdowns
Last Year's Stats (Johnson)
  • 262 yards (6.24 per carry)
  • no touchdowns

The Horned Frogs will be without departing seniors and their two top rushers from last year in running back Aaron Green and quarterback Trevone Boykin who combined for nearly 1,900 yards on the ground. The Frogs have several options waiting in the wings.

Summary

I'm betting that between Trevorris Johnson and Kyle Hicks, the Frogs find some really solid production. They'll miss Green, but the guys behind him have had time and opportunity to develop. I'm very interested to see how losing Boykin will impact the run game, though. - Christopher

6. West Virginia

Projected Rotation
  • Rushel Shell - Sr
  • Kennedy McKoy - Fr
Last Year's Stats (Shell)
  • 708 yards (4.40 per carry)
  • eight touchdowns

The Mountaineers will be without 2015 Big 12 leading rusher Wendell Smallwood who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Rushel Shell should get every chance to start as a senior but it gets pretty thin in the experience department behind Shell.

Summary

Losing Smallwood will hurt a lot. - Phillip

7. Oklahoma State

Projected Rotation
  • Barry J. Sanders - Sr
  • Chris Carson - Sr
  • Rennie Childs - Sr
  • Jeff Carr - So
Last Year's Stats (Sanders at Stanford)
  • 315 yards (6.18 per carry)
  • four touchdowns
Last Year's Stats (Carson)
  • 517 yards (3.95 per carry)
  • four touchdowns

Stuck behind Heisman favorite, Christian McCaffrey, Barry J. decided to come home as it were for his final year of eligibility. He reportedly chose OSU over the likes of TCU, knowing he would get to compete for a starting job.

At this time last year, Chris Carson was expected to be the next Kendall Hunter by some but lackluster run protection coupled with inconsistent play kept the Cowboys' running game from ever taking off. Carson also struggled through injury down the stretch.

If the Pokes want to build off last season, someone will have to emerge as a consistent back, especially with the tough road schedule the Cowboys face.

Summary

The Pokes backfield would be lower if not for sharing the blame of a pitiful running game with the offensive line. Adding Barry J. Sanders gives OSU more than enough bodies, but it's still uncertain how much actual talent is there. - Christopher

8. Kansas State

Projected Rotation
  • Charles Jones - Sr
  • Justin Silmon - So
Last Year's Stats (Jones)
  • 696 yards (4.90 per carry)
  • five touchdowns
Last Year's Stats (Silmon)
  • 355 yards (4.55 per carry)
  • two touchdowns

Charles Jones should get the majority of carries in an offense that struggled to run the ball last year. As the Wildcats may be breaking in a new QB, they will need Jones to be his consistent, reliable self. Sophomore Dalvin Warmack could make a push for reps, as well.

Summary

Bill Snyder had a walk-on, 3rd string QB run all over the field at BPS. - Robert

9. Texas Tech

Projected Rotation
  • Justin Stockton - Jr
  • Demarcus Felton - So
Last Year's Stats (Stockton)
  • 367 yards (6.02 per carry)
  • five touchdowns

Texas Tech, like TCU, loses their leading rusher to the NFL. DeAndre Washington was a beast, carving out nearly 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns while sharing the field with Mahomes' massively productive self (over 5,100 totals yards and 46 touchdowns).

Will the Red Raiders be able to replace Washington's production? Probably. But it will likely be by committee with Stockton leading the way.

Summary

Last I have heard, Justin Stockton has been given the nod by Kliff Kingsbury as the starter. Stockton is a small but speedy back who can really take off in the open field. They also have a couple of guys who will likely snag a few carries like Corey Dauphine and Demarcus Felton. They'll need one of these guys to step up in Washington's departure. - Austin

10. Kansas

Projected Rotation
  • Ke'aun Kinner - Sr
  • Taylor Martin - So
Last Year's Stats (Kinner)
  • 566 yards (4.22 per carry)
  • five touchdowns

The Jayhawks may repeat as last place rushers in the conference but Kinner is an able play-maker. Speedster Taylor Martin should back up Kinner at the No.2 spot. Although only taking 16 carries last season, he's the most experienced backup with De'Andre Mann and Taylor Cox both out of eligibity.

Summary

Best bet is to convince Andrew Wiggins to come back to KU and play RB. He can take the hand off and jump over the line. Guaranteed 4 yards every hand off. - Austin

Here's a breakdown of how we voted.

Christopher Austin Phillip Robert Jake Kyle
OU OU OU OU OU OU
BU ISU BU ISU ISU BU
ISU BU UT KSU BU ISU
UT UT ISU TTU UT UT
TCU TTU OSU WVU KSU OSU
WVU OSU WVU TCU TCU TTU
OSU WVU TCU KU TTU WVU
KSU TCU KSU UT WVU KSU
TTU KSU TTU OSU OSU TCU
KU KU KU BU KU KU