Houston area running back Rennie Childs prepared a new version of himself for 2012.
Rennie Childs 2K.
Not some video game character, but the real live player.
An under-the-radar prospect, Childs altered his style as a senior Cypress Ridge High and posted a premium personal goal: 2,000 yards.
And nearly got there.
“I went into the year with the goal of winning district, and personally running for 2K,” Childs said. “We won district, but I fell short of my personal goal.”
Adding a physical factor to an arsenal that already featured speed, Childs ran for 1,945 yards and 21 touchdowns, raising his recruiting profile to the point that the Cowboys rode in late to add him as a replacement for the NFL-bound Joseph Randle.
And it was another NFL-bound back — Alabama's Trent Richardson — who spurred Childs' enhanced running style last offseason.
“Coming into my senior year, I wanted to make a change,” said Childs, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound back with surprising power. “I wanted to change the way I ran. After watching Trent Richardson, I was like, ‘Dude, that's how I want to run.'
“I wanted to be more explosive, lower my shoulder on somebody, run them over and really showcase my skills and what I can do.”
The result was a breakout season that commanded the attention of several major college programs.
“Trent Richardson, he's not my idol, I just like the way he runs,” Childs said. “But I wanted to be more aggressive. I saw him running over people and I thought, ‘I can do that.' So I wanted to put it out there and show people I could.
“I recorded one of our games on TV, and the announcers kept saying, ‘Rennie, you're running like you're mad or something. Like you're underrated.' I know I'm underrated, but I know what I can do.”
First, opponents found out what Childs could do.
Then his consistent production caught on with the colleges.
OSU coaches liked what they saw, but worried about a logjam at the position, with Randle and Jeremy Smith already in the fold, Desmond Roland and Caleb Muncrief pressing for playing time and this class's one commit — Corion Webster of Atlanta, Texas — all stacking up at running back.
But when Randle made his decision to declare for the NFL Draft, the Cowboys had a need to go with their want for Childs.
“OSU's running backs coach, Jemal Singleton, stayed in touch and told me they really wanted me,” Childs said. “He said, ‘As soon as we have a scholarship available, we're offering it to you.'
“And as soon as Joseph Randle decided to go in the draft, he called me the same day.”
Childs enters Wednesday's signing day festivities as a three-star rated recruit, somewhat in the shadow of the top national and even top Texas backs.
His coach at Cypress Ridge, Gary Thiebaud, clearly thinks differently.
“Everybody likes to talk about Keith Ford,” Thiebaud said of the Oklahoma-bound back during the season. “Rennie Childs is better than Keith Ford. Print it.”
Childs appears to be a fit for the Cowboys offensive scheme, as a back who can bang inside, run away from tacklers and make plays as a receiver. He said he's familiar with the attack, having run the same system earlier at Cypress Ridge.
But he won't be making any 2K goals with the Cowboys. Not yet, anyway.
“I know I'm going to have competition,” Childs said. “I'm not going in there bigheaded. I'm not going in there thinking that I'm the top dog or I'm starting or anything, it's not like that. I just want an opportunity to showcase my skills.
“Reality is, there's already people there that I'll have to compete against. And there's somebody coming in with me to compete against. They're going for the spot, too, just like I am. It's about whoever wants it the most and whoever is willing to put in the most work.
“Shoot, I'll put in the work. I'll work hard.”