Joseph Randle is one of the most versatile offensive weapons in college football returning in 2012, but he won't be the only running back the Cowboys rely on to make an impact this season.
Also back are junior Jeremy Smith, who compiled 91 carries, 646 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011, and sophomores Herschel Sims (31 carries, 244 yards, two touchdowns) and Desmond Roland (17 carries, 95 yards).
“Playing running back's tough,” OSU running backs coach Jemal Singleton said. “You're in the Big 12, and I'm not going to ever make it through the season with the exact same two guys 100 percent healthy the whole time. So you've got to have that third option, you've got to have that fourth option.
“Joe and Jeremy, those are my 1A and 1B. Herschel is the guy that's kind of right there, and then Desmond's got to pull us up, because we need four. I've always felt you need four to get through a season.”
This week, Singleton broke down how Smith, Sims and Roland have progressed this spring.
Jeremy Smith, junior
Singleton says: “People are looking at numbers and you don't think much, but (Smith) averaged over seven yards a carry. That's pretty explosive. When you've got a “backup” — and I say that with my air quotes — that can come in a game and be explosive, (it really helps). I look at Texas, I look at Texas A&M, when Joe was getting a little gassed … and then boom, you throw in fresh legs and (Smith) hits it and busts a touchdown.”
Herschel Sims, sophomore
Singleton says: “Herschel is showing me some things that he may be capable of doing something really good. He's got to keep working, he's got to keep fighting, 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).”
Desmond Roland, sophomore
Singleton says: “I'd like to see Desmond come along more. He's a bigger, stronger-type guy, but I think mentally he's got to keep coming. Got to keep working, got to learn the offense, got to be physical, all those things.”