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June 9, 2009

Ranking the Big 12: Running back

There has been plenty of running back star power to pass through the Big 12 Conference over the years, and this season likely won't be any different. The question, however, is which backs will emerge as the conference's elite? With a slew of budding stars waiting to break out, it shouldn't too long to find out. Today, Huskeronline.com ranks the Big 12's running backs as we think they stand heading into fall camp.

1. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State, 5-8, 190, Jr.
Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter broke out onto the scene last year as a sophomore, racking up a Big 12 best 1,555 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns to lead the conference in rushing. He was awarded first-team All-America honors for his efforts, and with the Cowboys offense set to be even more explosive this season, his stock should only continue to rise. At this point, he's clearly the best back in the Big 12, if not the entire country.
2. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma, 6-1, 205, Jr.
There might not be a better all-purpose back in college football than Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray. Last year as a sophomore, Murray set a school record with 2,171 total yards through his work rushing, receiving and as a kickoff returner. He was named first-team All-Big 12, and some have argued that had he not injured his hamstring in last season's conference title game, the Sooners would have been much more competitive in the national championship against Florida.
3. Chris Brown, Oklahoma, 5-11, 210, Sr.
The only reason Oklahoma's Chris Brown gets overshadowed at times is because he has Murray playing ahead of him. Otherwise, he'd likely be a household name by now. Along with breaking the 1,000-yard mark rushing, his 20 total touchdowns last season rank fifth on OU's all-time chart. While he might not get all the individual attention he deserves, Brown and Murray will once again team up to form the Big 12's best running back duo.
4. Derrick Washington, Missouri, 5-11, 225, Jr.
Missouri may be losing a ton of talent from last season, but at least it can take solace in knowing that it still has Derrick Washington. While the Tigers' passing game garnered most of the attention last year, Washington quietly established himself as one of the best backs in the Big 12, finishing with 1,036 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He also hauled in 29 receptions for 227 yards and two scores. Nebraska was the first to see just how good Washington could be, as he posted a career-best 139 yards and three total touchdowns in the Tigers' win over NU last year.
5. Roy Helu, Nebraska, 6-1, 220, Jr.
Last year, Nebraska's Roy Helu was good. This season, he could be really good. After adding roughly 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason and having one of the best springs of any Husker, Helu seems poised for a breakout year as the top gun on NU's offense. In 2008, a lighter Helu ran for 803 yards on 125 carries, and his 6.3 yards per carry were the best by a Nebraska back with 100 or more carries in seven years. Though he's bulked up considerably since then, he still displayed the same quickness this spring, which should make him one of the most dangerous weapons in the Big 12 this season.

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