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Oklahoma State Will Rely on Youth At Running Back in 2017 and Beyond

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Barry J. Sanders, Rennie Childs, Chris Carson. Three veteran tailbacks who combined for nearly 900 yards rushing in 2016, all three of which have burned through their eligibility at Oklahoma State.

Moving forward for the Cowboys in 2017, freshman tailback Justice Hill established himself as the clear-cut No. 1 option in the backfield last season — and has entrenched himself as the starter for 2017.

But with so many question marks behind him at the running back position, where does OSU turn to, and how does the future look at the position from a scholarship standpoint?

Here’s a look at what 2017 will look like (with 2017 recruits being those already committed but not signed) and what recruits OSU is targeting for the future of the position:

Seniors Juniors Sophomores Freshmen 2018 Offers
Jeff Carr Justice Hill Chuba Hubbard Jaelen Gill
J.D. King Tae Provens
La’Darren Brown (RS) Jawhar Jordan
Jaylen Waddle

As you can tell, the oldest scholarship player on the roster is none other than Jeffrey Carr — a junior. So the running back stable is young.

Carr has made just one career start. And Hill, despite his breakout freshman campaign, didn’t even start in every game last season. Help from the youngsters coming in should help lighten what should be a full workload for him in year two.

Chuba Hubbard and J.D. King bring two dynamic, and totally separate, running styles. Chuba, a more elusive, speedy back, will come in around 205 pounds and in my estimation will break into the depth chart in the top-3. King on the other hand, runs with a more power style. He’s a physical back who reminds me of Ezekiel Elliott with his ability to burst through holes. He’s a 6-foot, 205-pound back with good top-end speed who I also think will break into the depth chart in some capacity. His running style complements Hill nicely.

As for 2018 offers … here’s a look at the radar.

James Graham — 6-foot-1, 180-lbs.

This is perhaps the most intriguing of the standing scholarship offers. Graham, a Fitzgerald, Georgia recruit, is the teammate — and quarterback! — of J.D. King, who is expected to sign in two weeks with OSU.

A dual-threat quarterback at the high school level, Graham projects as a high-level running back prospect at the next level with his shiftiness and agility in the open field. Schools already in the mix with OSU include Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Maryland.

Tae Provens — 6-foot, 190-lbs.

Provens, a three-star prospect from Gurley, Alabama, is a high-end prospect from SEC country already garnering offers from Tennessee, Auburn and USC of note.

Oklahoma State is considered a contender at the moment, but pulling him out of SEC country will be difficult.

Jaelen Gill — 6-foot-1, 182-lbs.

The Westerville, Ohio native picked up an offer from the Cowboys and Marcus Arroyo last summer. Since then, Ohio State, Texas, Florida, Notre Dame, and a whole bunch of others have hopped on board for the speedy four-star recruit ranked as a top-50 player in the 2018 class.

Being an Ohio native, this one may sway towards Ohio State, as you can see 247 experts predict he’s headed to Columbus. However an injury ended his junior season early, so many blue-blood schools will likely re-evaluate him after he returns from injury. That could help give OSU a chance.

Jawhar Jordan — 5-foot-10, 165-lbs.

At one point in his recruitment, Oklahoma State was considered to be a favorite. He had a phenomenal sophomore season that earned him national attention out of Chandler, AZ. However his junior campaign wasn’t as productive, and his somewhat lanky size may be a concern for schools.

Oklahoma State hopped on board early because of his play-making ability, as did New Mexico State and Idaho. Schools have cooled on him lately, but don’t be surprised to see him take off in his senior season. OSU will likely stay in the mix.

Jaylen Waddle — 5-foot-10, 175-lbs.

Waddle is listed by many as a wide receiver, where he could certainly find time playing at the next level. But Oklahoma State likes Waddle as a hybrid receiver/tailback that they would use as a swiss-army knife. In the slot, out of the backfield, Waddle is an electric playmaker who can do a little bit of everything. The big players of the region are already on board, and he’ll no doubt be a national recruit very soon.

Running backs coach Marcus Arroyo has been on him early, and he’s proven his ability to pluck off top recruits (from Canada and Georgia). Pulling off one from the heart of Texas would be a huge feat.

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