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2017 Grades: How Oklahoma State Running Backs Fared

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Oklahoma State’s two-headed monster at tailback evolved into more of a one-headed attack by season’s end, but by and large, OSU’s rushing attack far outweighed the preseason expectations placed on it.

Justice Hill followed up his freshman All-American performance in 2016 with an uptick in yards rushing to 1,347, as well as touchdowns (up from 6 to 14). He also caught 30 passes for 191 yards including a touchdown reception against Texas Tech.

But behind him was a cast that never quite got the opportunity, in part, because of Hill’s astronomical production. Freshman J.D. King recorded 466 yards, just ahead of third-leading rusher LD Brown, who finished with 211 on 33 carries.

Let’s take a look at hand out grades based on how the unit performed on the whole.

Production

OSU’s rushing attack produced 183.3 yards on the ground per game — a mark which ranked third among Big 12 teams behind OU (215.9) and Kansas State (186.7). It also had the third-highest rush yards average per carry, and ranked first in the conference with 33 scores.

Here’s the reaction 2014 me would have had if you told me the 2017 team would be this good on the ground.

Grade: A

Big plays

It didn’t feel like the run game could produce home run hits in the same way the passing game could, which is to be expected when A) You have an NFL-caliber QB and NFL-caliber WR’s and B) The statistical odds of outrunning 11 people versus outrunning one corner or a corner and a safety is much longer.

But the confidence level I had in the run game overall was much greater than it was in previous years, in part because OSU has a freshman who can do things most freshmen cannot … like this.

OSU had zero 70-plus yard rushing plays from the last five seasons, but it logged three in 2017 alone. That’s a sign of good things to come, and a massive improvement both up front and in the backfield.

Grade: B

Future

As far as recruiting, OSU has one commitment in the 2018 class thus far in San Antonio’s Jahmyl Jeter. But the more immediate future — the next three years, at least — is incredibly bright.

Justice Hill has (at least) one more year. J.D. King has (at least) two more. And Canadian speedster Chuba Hubbard has yet to get started after taking a redshirt season in 2017.

Sign me up for evolving into a Big Ten team in 2018, Bob. I want to see Hill-King-Chuba getting 20 carries per game next season.

Future grade: A+