January 10, 2013

Gundy has a problem at the running back position

Now that we know Joseph Randle's decision of whether to stay in Stillwater for his senior year or head to the NFL as an underclassman (He announced this morning that he'd turn pro), we can focus on what he left behind.

Randle was Oklahoma State's sixth-straight All-Conference running back, and he finished scattered around the record books in just about every category.
The Randle news isn't horrible for the Pokes, it just isn't ideal. Especially with the timing.

The problem started this past summer when running back Herschel Sims was dismissed from the team because of legal trouble. He was the third running back on the depth chart behind Randle and Jeremy Smith, and had a heap of expectations on his shoulders largely brought on from his five-star recruit ranking out of high school.

His situation was perfect for both him and Oklahoma State, as it was much like Randle's situation. He had time to get stronger and faster while he was down on the depth chart, but would eventually be given the chance to take the job for himself once Randle and Smith were gone.

Now, Oklahoma State's left with Smith, Desmond Roland (junior), and Caleb Muncrief (sophomore) going into this season.

Smith, from a physical and talent standpoint, is fully capable of being the feature back in the offense. He's similar to former OSU back Kendall Hunter, who now plays for the San Francisco 49ers, in that he's a small, powerful back who can breakaway if he's given an open field.

Behind him is Roland, and he's where the questions begin. The junior wasn't redshirted his first year on campus for some reason, and was the third back on the depth chart for the first half of the 2011 season when Sims was battling weight issues. He's shown strides in his game, although he hasn't really shown the edge that you want in a feature back just yet.

Third is Muncrief, who is a speedy, undersized guy. He saw time at punt return throughout the season, but he's more of a wild-card back than an every-down back, so we won't worry too much about him at the moment.

So as that stands, the Pokes have two running backs on the depth chart heading into spring ball not counting walk-ons (They have a few there as well).
So what's a solution?

They have one running back in this year's recruiting class, Corion Webster who's a three-star from Atlanta. Webster has good size to him, but not much else is known. There's also Jerel Morrow who's marked as an athlete in this class. He's about the same size as Webster, but Morrow is a four-star recruit and will likely end up at either receiver or defensive back.

Rumors have also been spreading of Altee Tenpenny, who's been committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide for quite some time. Tenpenny is a typical SEC back (6-foot, 220 pounds and a legitimate 4.5 second forty-yard dash). The rumors say that he's still with Alabama, but is keeping a close eye on the happenings at Oklahoma State, especially concerning Randle's decision.

Tenpenny is a guy who could contribute immediately to take some of the load off of Smith if Roland can't get it done, but it obviously isn't likely as he's still a Crimson Tide guy at the moment.

So given all of this information, what are some of Oklahoma State's options?

They have some choices. They can focus on grooming Roland this offseason in the weight room and in speed drills, they can throw the house at a recruit or two and hope for the best, or they can dip into the Junior College ranks and try and get two good years out of someone there.

It should be interesting, but it's something that can't be overlooked. Gundy and the crew have to figure out a solution, and figure it out fast.

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