While the quarterback position may be the most glamorous on the field a team also has to have a workhorse at running back to find true success. Where the conference is basically breaking in a new batch of quarterbacks it remains deep at the running back position where Oklahoma leads the way with one of the deepest backfields Bob Stoops has had for a while. Here's our ranking of the Big 12 Conference based on running back play.
The Sooners ranked 10th nationally in rushing last season and Samaje Perine had a lot to do with that. As a true freshman he averaged 6.5 yards per carry and 131.8 yards per game while also crossing the goal line 21 times. Redshirt freshman Joe Mixon will line up with Perine in the backfield this season which should cause those who are thinking that OU will be a pass only team to stop and pause.
Junior Shock Linwood led the Bears with 1,252 rushing yards in 2014. He averaged 5 yards per carry, 96.3 yards per game and scored 16 rushing touchdowns. He'll be spelled by sophomore Johnny Jefferson who averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored 6 touchdowns last season as a freshman.
The rise of Trevone Boykin to stardom limited the number of carries Aaron Green received in 2014 but when you're a key cog in the nation's second highest scoring offense you'll take what you can get. Green averaged 7.1 yards per carry last season and led the Horned Frogs with 70.9 yards per game. The departure of B.J. Catalon opens the door for senior Bram Kohlhausen to get some touches.
#4 West Virginia
The combination of Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood will be a duo that'll give defensive coordinators headaches. Both were major contributors in Dana Holgorsen's offense in 2014 with Shell averaging 4.5 yards per carry and Smallwood 4.9. Shell's season was shortened by injury but he'll return as the Mountaineers' top option in 2015.
#5 Texas Tech
Senior DeAndre Washington is one of the most unheralded backs in the conference. In 2014 he averaged 5.9 yards per carry on his was to an 1,100 yard season. Justin Stockton was fantastic in reserve touches, carrying the ball 48 times for an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
The departure of Malcolm Brown paves the way for Johnathan Gray to be the most experienced back in the Texas offense which means the senior should get the bulk of the carries in 2015. Sophomore D'Onta Foreman and senior WR/RB Daje Johnson will share some of the carries as well.
#7 Oklahoma State
The losses of Desmond Roland and Tyreek Hill took 305 carries, 1,304 yards, and 11 touchdowns away from the Cowboys' rushing attack. Junior Rennie Childs (294 yards, 3 TDs last season) steps in as O-State's primary back with Chris Carson serving as the backup.
#8 Kansas State
The Wildcats will return 2014 leading rusher Charles Jones and four of five starting offensive linemen. The result should be an increase from the 133 rushing attempts that Jones received and hopefully an increase in his 4.1 yards per carry average. Hometown product Winston Dimel could also factor into K-State's rushing attack as well.
The Jayhawks are putting their stock in JUCO All-American Ke'Aun Kinner who is shifty and has impressive power for his 5-9/180 frame. They also have sophomore Corey Avery senior De-Andre Mann coming back this fall. That duo combined to lead Kansas in rushing in 2014.
#10 Iowa State
Sophomore Tyler Brown is Iowa State's most experienced ball carrier with just 24 carries. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson was the team's second leading rusher in 2014 with 125 carries for 606 yards and could very well end up being the team's leading ball carrier this fall.