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#20 – Herschel Sims

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Editor’s note: this is the first entry into our countdown of the twenty most important people (not necessarily players) in OSU’s march towards its first national title. I’ve posted a link to all the entries on the right sidebar and we will update as we go backwards from #20 to #1. Hope you enjoy it.

Who he is: If one top-flight running back in college football is a necessity and two is a luxury then Sims represents what appears to be an embarrassment of riches for Oklahoma State this year.

He was injured for most of his senior season but in his healthy junior year he put up staggering numbers for Abilene High: 250 rushes for 2,260 yards (9.0 avg.) and 36 total TDs. For comparison’s sake Malcolm Brown, who was the number one recruit in Texas last year and subsequently took his talents to Austin, posted 298 rushes for 2,596 yards (8.7 avg.) and 30 TDs.

What he does: Sims is shorter than Randle and probably not as strong as Smith but he’s displayed a pretty good blend of each player’s respective style. He lines up really deep in the backfield, almost Adrian Peterson-like depth, which allows him to pick his running lane pretty precisely. He kind of reminds me of a smaller Ahmad Bradshaw.

Where he fits in: He is the Peyton Hillis to Randle’s and Smith’s best DMC/Felix Jones impression. Or, if you prefer, the Brandon Jacobs to their Cadillac/Ronnie Brown. He’s a different runner than those guys, but you get the point – he’s the undercard to the main event.

I think we’ve kind of gotten to the point where it doesn’t really matter who plays running back at OSU because the position is going to be successful. It’s like how the Broncos were in the late 90s and early 2000s, “oh, yeah, we can have Travis Henry or any of his 26 kids back there and we’re still going to end up with a 1,000 yard rusher.”

That said, the argument could be made that the reason OSU has such a reputation for producing great runners is because they’ve always recruited players who were great runners. Whatever the case Sims has an opportunity to be one of the great ones.

Why he matters: If Randle or Smith gets h-word then the responsibility falls on the freshman to keep things balanced for his strong-armed quarterback and newly minted offensive coordinator. Only once since 1998 has a first year back led the Cowboys in rushing (Mike Hamilton in 2005) and that didn’t turn out so well.

If they don’t then he will be what Randle was to Hunter and Smith last year. He’ll run for a few hundred yards, get some diamond formation (is that still around?) looks, and generally scare the hell out of teams when the realize, “oh crap, that guy is their their #3 back?!”

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