The countdown to fall camp is now numbered in weeks and not months, so it’s about time to start ramping up our discussion about the upcoming season. We’ll be looking at each position group starting with the one with probably the least questions to answer.
Total running backs: 5
Incoming in 2018: Jahmyl Jeter
Projected starter: Justice Hill
Projected backups: J.D. King, Chuba Hubbard, LD Brown
Player I’m most excited about: Justice Hill is the obvious answer. He’s probably the best player on the roster and will undoubtedly be the focal point of OSU’s retooling offense.
Hill broke the freshman rushing record with 1,142 yards without earning the starting job until Week 4. He followed that up with a sophomore season in which he led the Big 12 with 1,467 yards. If he continues on this trajectory and can remain as durable, Hill could be a household name nationally and a darkhorse Heisman candidate by October.
Player who has the opportunity to surprise: Chuba Hubbard. While his surprise factor may have lost a little of its sheen based on Mike Gundy’s comments from a year ago as well as a couple of exciting runs during this past spring game, his upside is as high as any of the new faces we will see this fall.
Landing Hubbard was enough of a coup on its own, in light of 25 scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Miami. But convincing the world-class speedster to move from Alberta, Canada 1,700 miles south to Stillwater, USA and then keeping him on ice for a redshirt year is an underappreciated feat by Gundy and Co.
What concerns me about this group: Blocking. If there is a concern about this group, it comes from the turnover in the trenches. Oklahoma State said goodbye to four-year starters at center and right tackle in Brad Lundblade and Zach Crabtree, as well as grad transfer Aaron Cochran who protected Mason Rudolph’s blind side.
Right guard Larry Williams’ return for his awarded sixth year of eligibility is a boon for the OL group and left guard Marcus Keyes is back as well, but breaking in replacements across 60 percent of your offensive line including a center is a challenge that can’t be overstated.
Strengths/weaknesses of this group: The strength of the RB group is its talent which starts at the top with the aforementioned Hill but extends down the depth chart.
J.D. King has looked superhuman in spots as a freshman and most recently in the spring game. LD Brown looks like he is ready to vie for significant carries as well. Add in Chuba finally getting to see the field and OSU’s running back corps may have a similar issue as its WR corps did a year ago — not enough footballs to go around.
If there is a weakness to this group, it’s experience behind Hill. If Justice
were to get injured that which must not be uttered occurs, King (99) and Brown (34) represent the only returning carries.