STILLWATER — Oklahoma State running backs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith have a tall task in front of them.
Replacing a back with the talent and accomplishments of Kendall Hunter isn't easy, but Randle and Smith are more than up for the challenge.
The Cowboys backfield duo split time in 2010 backing up Hunter, so they're familiar with the territory and familiar with each other.
Do you remember when you met each other and what your first impressions were?
Smith: He was very goofy, very outspoken and very funny.
Randle: I was like, this dude is ripped up. And he drank too much.
What is the most annoying about Jeremy?
Randle: He tries to sing sometime and it ain't no good.
Smith: I am a great singer. Everybody knows it.
What is the most annoying thing about Joe?
Smith: His rapping skills. His singing skills. He can't rap at all.
How are you the most alike?
Randle: We like the same stuff, girls...
You like the same girls? Couldn't that be a problem?
Randle: No, no, no. We don't like the same girls. We just both like girls. It's the best thing about college.
Smith: On a serious note, I think we've both got a good work ethic. He's a hard worker and I know every day that we are going to go out there and compete against each other and make each other better.
How are you the least alike?
Randle: Honestly, I can't tell you that because we are real similar. We've both got good morals.
Smith: Really, I don't even know.
What is the oddest thing about Jeremy?
Randle: He wears stuff until it is all the way out. He will wear stuff with holes in it. Like football equipment, he don't like changing stuff, socks or anything. He likes to keep everything.
Smith: This is very true. I don't wash my socks for about a week.
Randle: They're funky.
What one trait would you like to take from each other.
Smith: I would have to say the height. It's a plus. Ladies love the height.
Randle: The guns (pointing to Jeremy's biceps).
What is the one thing you admire most about each other.
Randle: It has to be his work ethic and his character. He is really a leader. A lot of people can say it, but he really is a hard worker. He is always working hard to get better.
Smith: Same thing. His hard work and his confidence level. He gives some good speeches. People love to hear them.
DUO THEY MOST RESEMBLE
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Same position. Same class (sophomores). Same effectiveness.
Randle, so smooth as a player, provides the civilized, yet lethal side to the Cowboys running game, ala the gentlemanly Dr. Jekyll. He glides outside with ease and speed, also catching the ball effortlessly. Smith's reckless style brings a beastly element between the tackles, reminiscent of gritty Mr. Hyde.
FROM THE COACH
Running backs coach Jemal Singleton on the running backs
“Very excited about our running back position. We've got two guys coming back who have played significantly. And we're excited to see just how much they grow and continue to get better. The more you watch and the more you see with Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith and see the things they're able to do, you've got to feel good about where you're at. And we've got some other good players at the position.”
OSU RUNNING BACKS DYNAMIC DUO
Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders, 1987
What? You thought we would pick Terry Miller and Robert Turner? Not that Miller and Turner weren't a load in 1975, when they combined for 2,018 yards (1,026 Miller, 992 Turner).
But Thomas and Sanders defy description. Dynamic duo overstates certain cases. This time, it's not enough.
Two of the NFL's greatest running backs spent two seasons together in Stillwater.
Thomas was a ballyhooed recruit out of Fort Bend, Texas, who lived up to the hype. He remains Tailback U.'s all-time leading rusher, with 4,595 yards from 1984-87.
Sanders was just a bit player as a 1986 freshman. But in 1987, he rushed for 603 yards as Thomas' backup and made all-American as a kickoff returner, since he led the nation in kickoff return yardage. Thomas rushed for 1,613 yards and made all-American as a tailback.
The next year, Sanders produced his epic season, 2,850 yards rushing.
There's some concern in replacing standout Kendall Hunter, yet Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith each excelled when given opportunities a year ago. Between the two of them, the production should be there. And Randle, so good as a true freshman in 2010, could be a star. The fullbacks, Kye Staley and David Paulsen, are solid.
RB Joseph Randle
FB Kye Staley
RB Jeremy Smith
RB Herschel Sims
RB Desmond Roland
FB David Paulsen
Unit Grade: B+
Randle and Smith are nice fits — and complementary pieces — for OSU's spread attack