Continuing our series looking at the 13 most important players for the 2013 Oklahoma State season.
No. 2: Jeremy Smith, running back
Smith will go from complementary back to starter this fall, taking over that role after All-Big 12 performer Joseph Randle left OSU a year early to enter the NFL Draft.
One of the biggest aspects of OSU’s version of the spread that outsiders overlook is just how important the running game is. The Cowboys have had a 1,000-yard rusher every season the Cowboys have run the Air Raid, including Kendall Hunter in 2010 and Randle in 2011 and 2012.
And Smith has certainly been productive during his Cowboy career, tallying more than 1,400 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s got the strength to pick up critical first downs — and touchdowns — between the tackles and an underrated ability to burst through the hole for long gains (remember the Texas game in 2011?).
But there are two major concerns about Smith’s game. The first is his health, as nagging injuries have slowed him during the last two seasons. The second is his pass-catching, a key skill in this offense (and one of the biggest strengths of Randle’s game) but something Smith has struggled with in the past (Exhibit A: Iowa State, 2011).
With little experience at the backup running back spots, that makes Smith even more important to the Cowboys. Coaches have been impressed with Desmond Roland and feel he’s ready to really contribute. True freshmen Rennie Childs and Corion Webster appear to be physically ready for college football, but may still need some mental work to adjust to this level.
Smith said he’s been waiting his whole career to be the No. 1 back. He better be ready, because the Cowboys will sure need him.
Here’s our countdown so far:
13. Jake Jenkins, center
12. J.W. Walsh, quarterback
11. Shaun Lewis, linebacker
10. Blake Jackson, inside receiver
9. Tyler Johnson, defensive end
8. Lyndell Johnson, strong safety
7. Tracy Moore, wide receiver
6. Calvin Barnett, defensive tackle
5. Justin Gilbert, cornerback/kick returner
4. Ben Grogan, kicker
3. Josh Stewart, inside receiver/punt returner
2. Jeremy Smith, running back