In February 2010, OSU signed Joe Randle out of Wichita. Randle was a three-year standout at tailback who now is the Dallas Cowboys’ backup as a rookie.
And no OSU tailback signed since has made an impact. Of course, Randle and Jeremy Smith, now a fifth-senior senior who signed in 2009, have hogged the carries the last three years. But with Randle gone and Smith the lone veteran with crunch-time experience, it’s time for a new OSU tailback threat to emerge.
The last three years, the Cowboys have signed these tailbacks:
2013: Corion Webster, Atlanta, Texas; Rennie Childs, Houston Cypress Ridge.
2012: Caleb Muncrief, Madill;
2011: Desmond Roland, Lake Highlands, Texas; Herschel Sims, Abilene, Texas;
Roland rushed for 301 yards on 46 carries last season, but virtually all of his production came in mopup duty, other than 20 yards on three carries against Texas. Sims was dismissed from the squad a year ago. Muncrief has played little. Webster and Childs are vying for playing time this season.
“Des Roland is coming along,” said OSU running back coach Jemal Singleton. “He’s going into his junior year now, so he’s no longer a young guy. He’s been around, he’s played some reps and done some good things. We’re going to see him play. With us and how we go really fast and play a bunch of plays, he’s going to get a significant amount of playing time. Fans are going to see that he’s very capable of doing what we ask him to.
“We’ve got some young guys, the two new freshmen (Webster and Childs), I’ve got the fire hose on them and I’m spraying them down with as much information as they can handle. They’re progressing very well and I’m happy with their progression. Now it’s can they continue to learn and continue to study and continue to do those things when college starts.”
Can either rookie crack the rotation, which often is three-deep at OSU?
“I think so,” Singleton said. “You look at them physically. Neither of them is a small guy. It’s not like they’re 150-pound kids. They’re both in the 180, 190 range. They have good size and they both have really good speed and have proven through camp already that they can stick their nose in the hole and be aggressive when they run. Both have the athletic capability to do it. It’s going to be mentally, can they handle it?”
Singleton said that when he recruits a tailback, “Everybody wants a guy with size and speed with good cutting and change of direction. I call it the zero-to-60. I don’t need a guy that runs a 4.1 in the 40, but if he can run 10 yards extremely fast and explosively, then that’s what I’m looking for — change of direction and acceleration. In our offense, we like a guy with decent ball skills who can catch the ball out of the backfield and also be a threat as a receiver.
“You look for a lot of different molds. Take a look at Joseph Randle. He was a different type of back than Jeremy Smith is and Jeremy Smith is different than Desmond Roland. I don’t think there is a cookie-cutter approach to what you can look at as a running back. I’m looking for football players. They can come in all sizes and shapes and different skill sets. Do you make plays when you’re on the field? That’s what I look for.”