The Oklahoma Sooners possess a talented backfield heading into the spring. With the gem of the 2014 class coming off a suspension, there could be a serious shake up amongst the backs. When it's all said and done, where will the chips fall?
The Star - Samaje Perine
Starting the season with bang, Perine solidified himself as one of the best running backs in the nation averaging 6.51 yards per carry during his freshman campaign. The effort landed recognition after recognition including Big XII Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Consistently proving able to move the ball down the field while racking up yards after contact, Perine tallied up 1713 total yards and 21 touchdowns. A unique combination of size, strength, and balance have Sooners fans excited about the future of this youngster.
Continuing the chain of dominant backs at the University of Oklahoma, Perine remains the top option and should be the front runner of the group. Things could get a bit interesting though as Joe Mixon adds his name to the equation this spring.
The Swiss Army Knife - Keith Ford
Of the proven backs listed on the roster, Ford remains the most versatile of the group. Missing five games this past season, the powerful runner managed to secure five touchdowns along with 392 yards on 71 carries. However, Ford continues to display an ability for catching the ball out of the backfield the rest of group lacks. With deceptively good hands combined with a lack of production from the receivers last year could make Ford one to watch.
It will be interesting to see how a Cale Gundy moving over to coach inside receivers affects the running backs. Taking over, Jay Boulware has some big shoes to fill. What can he do with the a guy like Ford and the talent Boulware inherits in the backfield?
The Homerun Threat - Alex Ross
Ross displayed break away speed when getting to the second level. However, getting through the line of scrimmage continued to plague the Tulsa native. Constantly debating how Ross should be used, the kid managed to eclipse Perine's mark in yards per carry with 6.76 per touch. Finding ways to utilize the speed of this kid gives the Sooners a much needed threat.
Unfortunately the talent pool continues to grow at Oklahoma leaving fewer and fewer carries to go around. Ross benefited from the injury to Ford but it's not certain that he'll receive the same number of snaps he did this past season. Regardless, Ross continues to present the biggest threat on kickoffs.
The Question Mark - Joe Mixon
Before his collegiate career ever began, the talented running back ran into a bit of trouble. Forced to sit out of team activities, the youngster remained in school. The same expectations sit on Mixon's shoulders from a year ago as this kid can contribute in a number of ways immediately. Now a year older with the past behind him, Mixon has the talent to slide in on the two deep.
Mixon is expected to practice with the team this spring but will not take part in the annual Spring Game.
The Newcomer - Rodney Anderson
Completing high school a semester early allowed the 6-1 running back to join up with the Sooners in January. A consensus 4-star recruit, Anderson has the potential to be a difference maker on the collegiate level. We'll get our first glimpse of the newcomer this Spring.