STILLWATER — With Joseph Randle's early departure to the NFL, running back will be an intriguing position to monitor as Oklahoma State opens fall camp this week.
Running backs coach Jemal Singleton can already fire off his own set of questions.
Can Jeremy Smith be a durable starter?
Is Desmond Roland ready to be a steady contributor?
Will Caleb Muncrief be a factor?
Will the “puppies,” incoming freshmen Corion Webster and Rennie Childs, be able to make an impact right away?
“We've got unknowns,” Singleton said. “If I'm those guys, I've got a chip on my shoulder. You're the position that's being questioned, probably the most.”
Singleton broke down the position with me following OSU's media golf outing last week.
Some of these questions you also had in the spring. Did Jeremy Smith start to show you he could be a reliable starter? Did Desmond Roland make significant strides?
“It's 15 practices. It's every other day. Really, the workload isn't anything like it is week in and week out during the season. If a guy (like Smith) finishes the spring and really doesn't have an injury or anything, it doesn't tell me a whole lot.
“I think Desmond, this spring, showed me a lot more of the maturity that I think he had been lacking. I think he's really turned it on. Knock on wood, because I don't want to jinx him. But I think he's starting to understand life. He's starting to understand that, ‘Hey, it's important for me to go to class, it's important for me to do well in school, it's important for me to practice hard and do things right.' And I think when he's started to do that, his performance on the field has improved, too. I think this spring may have been it. I think he made that turn, and I really think he's got a chance to push Jeremy Smith extremely, extremely hard. Which is great for me, because I want competition.”
Really? Push for the bulk of the carries?
“I think the minute that Jeremy thinks he's the guy hands down, Desmond Roland is going to chomp at his heels. That's going to be good. They're both going to play. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. Both of those guys are going to get significant reps, and whoever does the best with those reps is probably going to get a few more (carries in the game).”