August 31, 2009

Top Five running backs on Baylor's schedule

While the quarterbacks get all the attention in the Big 12, the running backs are just as impressive and dangerous. Baylor's schedule is full of future NFL first round picks, all Americans, and Heisman hopefuls carrying the football every Saturday.

In these rankings, SicEmSports breaks down the top five running backs and running back tandems that Baylor will face this season. The rankings are the opinion of SicEmSports, and are based on players' past performances and future potential.

SicEmSports Rankings: Top five running backs on Baylor's schedule

The Texas Tech offense is known for its prolific passing attack, but often times the red raiders' running game is unfairly overlooked. The offense in Lubbock is never going to be confused for the old Nebraska option attack, but Mike Leach is very good at finding the right running backs for his scheme, and using them to compliment the rest of his offense.

This will be Batch's first year as Tech's full time starter, but even though he was coming off the bench behind senior Shannon Woods, the former Midland star still lead the red raiders in rushing with 801 total yards and a five yards per carry average.

The Tech junior may be hampered at the beginning of the season with an elbow injury that he sustained early in fall camp. He was expected to miss a couple months of action, but returned to practice in less than two weeks. His health and effectiveness early in the season will be determined later.

Key Quote: "Baron's a very tough kid," said Tech defensive tackle Colby Whitlock. "He's had to play through injury before, ever since he's got here. It isn't anything that he's not used to. He'll rebound great off of it." -

Baron Batch Highlights

4.Roy Helu Jr.

Like Batch, Roy Helu Jr. had to come off the bench and share carries with a senior, but with Marlon Lucky now trying to make it in the NFL and Quentin Castille dismissed recently, the bulk of the workload and responsibility now fall to Helu. Despite the somewhat crowded backfield in Lincoln last year, Helu went over 100 yards against Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado on his way to being named Honorable Mention All-Big 12.

Helu doesn't have the speed of some of the other players in the conference like DeMarco Murray and Baron Batch, but he is still fast enough, physical enough, and elusive enough to make him one of the top backs in the conference.

He has added around ten pounds this offseason with no noticeable loss of speed which he will now need more than ever as he's looked at to carry nearly the full load at tailback.

Key Quote: "After watching Helu through nearly the first two weeks of spring practice, it's clear he's quicker and faster than a year ago. The extra weight Helu added this off-season should help his body get a better handle on the beating he's going to take this fall in the Big 12 Conference." -

Roy Helu Jr. Highlights

Derrick Washington is right there on the same level for best overall running back in the conference with the player from the two Oklahoma schools, but because Missouri doesn't have an established back to use in tandem with him like the others, then he falls down this list.

Everyone knows about the talented passing attack that the tigers had last year with Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and Chase Coffman, but defensive coordinators keyed on Washington and stopping him would stop their offense. In Missouri's four losses last season Washington averaged just under 28 yards per game. He averaged 93 yards per game in their ten wins.

Like Batch, Washington is a very good fit for Missouri's spread attack. He is an effective one cut runner, and is a very good pass catcher out of the backfield.

Key Quote: "He played very well last season, despite injury. But that was when he was a secondary threat to the Tiger passing game. Washington will be a marked man this year. If he can respond with numbers similar to what he put up a year ago, Missouri will be in great shape." -

It's hard to compare anyone to Barry Sanders, but Kendall Hunter's style of play is very similar to the former cowboy great. Hunter is quick, elusive, and is able to manipulate and carve up a defense like few others in the nation. It's no accident that the former Tyler star led the Big 12 in rushing, and with senior Keith Toston they form one of the top running back duos in the country.

Toston is often the forgotten man in Stillwater because he is usually overshadowed by Hunter, but he is a very skilled and dangerous back in his own right. He is the bigger and more physical compliment to Hunter and he had success last season as Hunter's relief running for 686 and a 6.7 yards per carry average. Toston is currently considered a fringe NFL draft pick according to some outlets.

Key Quote: "We are fortunate to have so much depth," OSU running backs coach Robert Gillespie said. "We have guys that are so different that we'll be able to roll a bunch of fresh guys in. And with every guy we roll in, there's a home run threat." -

Kendall Hunter Highlights

The Big 12 south is loaded with talented running backs, and that's no more apparent than with the Oklahoma Sooners. Not only do they have one really dynamic running back, but they have two of the best ball carriers in the country. Both players compliment each other really well and work perfectly in Kevin Wilson's offense.

DeMarco Murray is the slashing flashy back that makes big plays and will make people watching say wow. His first three steps when he gets up to speed are as fast as any player in the nation. He accelerates with ease and is able to make people miss in the open field and slip through crease in the defense because of it.

Chris Brown is the more physical between the tackles running back and their goal line ace, but he's not going to let anyone try to put limits on his ability. He's just as capable of turning a four yard gain into an 80 yard touchdown as his teammate.
Key Quote: "The two of them together make a very special backfield," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "Those guys, there are not a lot of teams around the country with two thousand-yard rushers side by side … The two of them give us a lot of opportunities back there." - The Norman Transcript
DeMarco Murray Highlights

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