Sims had been expected to fill a similar role as a sophomore in 2012, with All-Big 12 back Joseph Randle (1,216 yards, 24 touchdowns in 2011) and complement back Jeremy Smith (646 yards, nine touchdowns) both returning for their junior seasons. But running backs coach Jemal Singleton said in April that he was pleased with the progress Sims was making during spring practice.
“He’s got to keep working, he’s got to keep fighting,” Singleton said then. “But I’m at a point a little bit more now that it’s not, ‘Oh dang, Joe got hurt, Jeremy’s tired, who do I put in?’ I feel a lot more comfortable that Herschel is an option for this team that can help us, that can get in a game and do some things.
“Obviously, he’s kind of grown more because of where he came from. He wasn’t a guy that I felt comfortable about, so the fact that I’ve had some confidence built for him (is a good sign).”
Sims’ OSU career got off to a rocky start. He took to Twitter to express his displeasure with not playing in the Cowboys’ 2011 season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette and was disciplined with a week of practice on the StairMaster. Gundy also said Sims did not initially display the proper work ethic, but that it greatly improved over the course of the season.
Now, a position that was considered to be one of great depth has taken a hit. Sophomore Desmond Roland, who compiled 95 yards on 17 carries in limited action in 2011, will become the Cowboy’s No. 3 back. Singleton said during the spring that he wants to have four backs that he can rely on in 2012.
The Cowboys did not sign a true running back in their 2012 recruiting class, but “athlete” Caleb Muncrief of Madill played both running back and receiver in high school.