Ranking Big 12 Starting Running Backs
10. James Sims (Kansas)
2011 Stats: 182 ATT, 727 YDS, 4.0 AVG, 9 TD
Sims will miss the first three games of the season after being suspended for a violation of team rules in relation to being charged with DUI in April. We can’t rank him any higher on this list thanks to that partial season, but Sims is the starter in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks should be better in 2012 under Charlie Weis, a man with a background as an effective offensive assistant, who has brought in experienced QB Dayne Crist. But Sims has combined for 1,469 yards and 18 touchdowns in the last two seasons - which could be one really good campaign for a top-notch running back.
Photo: John Rieger/US Presswire
9. Jarred Salubi (Baylor)
2011 Stats: 58 ATT, 331 YDS, 5.7 AVG, 3 TD
The Bears lost a lot of firepower from a talented 2011 offense that included Heisman Trophy winner QB Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright. But let’s not forget RB Terrance Ganaway, who has left a gaping hole in the backfield. Hyped transfer RB Lache Seastrunk has the most talent - and he broke out in the spring game - but he won’t have the starting job.
We can see Salubi getting the nod over Glasco Martin. He didn’t see the ball much last year, when he didn’t have double-digit carries in a game. But his best game came in the famous Alamo Bowl scoring fest against Washington - racking up 105 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. We’re not sure, though, if that was just a mirage.
Photo: Jerome Miron/US Presswire
8. James White (Iowa State)
2011 Stats: 159 ATT, 743 YDS, 5.1 AVG, 8 TD
There should be good depth at running back for Iowa State, which also has Shontrelle Johnson and Jeff Woody as effective players out the backfield. So White’s numbers may not knock you over in 2012. But he averaged just under 5.0 yards per carry in 2011 - racking up 148 yards in a loss to a Baylor and 138 in a win over Texas Tech.
White certainly is a reliable and steady back who was able to carry the load with Johnson injured last year and QB Jared Barnett as the second-leading rusher. We won’t complain about him 2012 - but we won’t be blown away, either.
Photo: Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire
7. Eric Stephens (Texas Tech)
2011 Stats: 108 ATT, 565 YDS, 5.2 AVG, 8 TD
Stephens played just five games last year, when he suffered an ugly knee injury in a loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 8 and missed the rest of the campaign. But in those five contests, he registered four 100-yard games and eight touchdowns. So he certainly has the ability to be much higher on this list.
But it’s unclear if Stephens will be at full strength in 2012 - or if he will play at all. He was sidelined during spring practice, but all signs point to a return in the fall, even if he may be limited. That’s how much we think of Stephens, listing him at this point on the list despite an uncertain return. Stay tuned to see if he’s healthy or not. You might see a lot of sophomore running back Kenny Williams in 2012.
Photo: Michael Johnson/US Presswire
6. Dustin Garrison (West Virginia)
2011 Stats: 136 ATT, 742 YDS, 5.5 AVG, 6 TD
Garrison is another running back who is recovering from a knee injury. He suffered a torn ACL before the Orange Bowl rout of Clemson, which clouded an otherwise impressive freshman season in Dana Holgorsen’s offense. As such, Garrison was forced to sit out of spring practice.
But the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Garrison was good when he got the ball, carrying it between 10 and 18 times during the season. He even broke out against Bowling Green on Oct. 1, when he rushed the ball 32 times for 291 yards and two touchdowns in a 55-10 win. Garrison is expected to be the No. 1 running back again when the fall rolls around, though he could miss the season opener and allow senior Shawne Alston to grab some carries.
Photo: Kim Klement/US Presswire
5. John Hubert (Kansas State)
2011 Stats: 200 ATT, 970 YDS, 4.9 AVG, 3 TD
We think that Hubert and QB Collin Klein complement each other well in the Wildcats’ backfield. Klein carries the most of the load, operating more like a featured running back than a quarterback for K-State. That allows for some pressure to be taken off the 5-foot-7 Hubert.
But now it’s time for Hubert to return the favor. If Kansas State wants to improve upon its 10 wins last year, it can’t rely only on Klein - as good as he is. Hubert gained 970 yards on just 200 carries last season. We can see him being even more of a factor as a junior to give K-State a great rushing combination.
Photo: Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
4. Dominique Whaley (Oklahoma)
2011 Stats: 113 ATT, 627 YDS, 5.5 AVG, 9 TD
Whaley missed the last seven games of the season thanks to a broken ankle but still managed to be Oklahoma’s leading rusher in 2011. Reports in March said that he will be able to return to the field as early as this summer, though many are skeptical that he will be in top shape for the Sooners’ opener.
Either way, we should see Whaley back on the field this season. It’s a wonder that we are anticipating his comeback at all. He burst onto the scene out of nowhere after earning the lion’s share of the carries despite once being a walk-on and unheralded player. We’re rooting for Whaley to get back out there and think that he will be successful again if completely healthy.
Photo: Peter Aiken/US Presswire
3. Waymon James (TCU)
2011 Stats: 121 ATT, 875 YDS, 7.2 AVG, 6 TD
The leading rusher for TCU in 2011, James wasn’t even slated to be the starter. However, Ed Wesley left the team this spring to attend to reportedly attend to family matters. That means that the burden will be shouldered by James, whom we think is more than capable. He racked up nearly 900 yards on just 121 carries; that’s an incredible 7.2 yards a pop. Now you see why he’s so high on this list?
The 203-pound running back posted three 100-yard games despite sharing the carries, and we see him being an integral part of a good Horned Frogs offense with QB Casey Pachall in the school’s first season in the Big 12.
Photo: Kevin Jairaj/US Presswire
2. Malcolm Brown (Texas)
2011 Stats: 172 ATT, 742 YDS, 4.3 AVG, 5 TD
The Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Brown showed the conference why he was one of the most-recruited players in the nation entering the 2011 season. He missed three games with injuries but still led the Longhorns in rushing - the first true freshman to do so since Cedric Bensonm, as Athlon Sports pointed out.
A strong, 215-pound back, Brown posted three 100-yard games, including a 135-yard effort with two scores against national-title contending Oklahoma State. We predict an even better season for Brown in 2012, when he will have a year of experience under his belt.
Photo: Kirby Lee/US Presswire
1. Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State)
2011 Stats: 208 ATT, 1216 YDS, 5.8 AVG, 27 TD
We bet you didn’t know that Randle had 26 total touchdowns for the Cowboys last year - 24 of which were rushing scores. That’s because Oklahoma State’s dream season that fell short of a national title but ended with a Fiesta Bowl win was fueled by QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon. But they had help from the dynamic Randle.
Now this will be his offense with Weeden and Blackmon playing in the NFL. We can see Randle besting his previous year’s totals in 2012, even if there will be more focus on him. But with QB Clint Chelf in his first season as a starter, expect Randle to top his 208 carries from last fall - and possibly the six 100-yard games, like the 151 yards and two TDs that he registered in a Bedlam Rivalry game win over Oklahoma.
• Related: Ranking Pac-12 Running Backs
• Related: Ranking Big Ten Running Backs
• Related: Ranking SEC Running Backs
Photo: Matthew Emmons/US Presswire