STILLWATER — Before every Oklahoma State practice, running backs Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs have a quick talk.
As a senior who has been through all the trials, Roland is there to guide Childs, a budding sophomore from Houston.
Roland is missing spring practices after shoulder surgery, shifting the load to Childs for now.
With the possibility of junior-college transfer Tyreek Hill entering the OSU backfield, that’s pressed Childs even more to make an impression.
“I tell him he’s gotta grind every day,” Roland said. “Every day’s a grind. You gotta be consistent. That’s what the coaches love.”
That’s also where some of the problems have been for Childs, who is still considered a first-year player and unavailable to media until the fall under Mike Gundy’s rules.
The ability is there, no doubt. Last season as a true freshman, Childs played in eight games. He broke out with 45 yards on 16 carries against TCU and posted a career-high 70 yards against Texas Tech.
Before the Cotton Bowl, fullback Kye Staley called Childs the running back of the future. Former offensive lineman Parker Graham supported that bold statement.
“Next year you all are going to be talking about Rennie Childs a lot,” Graham said. “Between Des and him, there are going to be a lot of rushing yards.”
For Childs, it’s now about growing up to meet the demands of being a Big 12 running back.
“He had that freshmanitis,” Roland said. “He didn’t want to practice every day.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said Childs did enough in the fall to earn a role when the 2014 season rolls around, but coach Mike Gundy and his staff still want more from Childs.
“There’s a pattern and a path you have to take in order to play running back at this level,” Gundy said. “You have to take hits, and you gotta get sore and get tired and keep playing and take care of the football. He’s about halfway through that process.”
Running backs coach Jemal Singleton said Childs struggling with the daily routine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s part of the process, and because Childs played as a freshman, he was able to skip the pledge period.