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Positional Reviews and Previews: Running Back

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This is series of positional reviews, which entail a look back and a look forward at each position for the Red Raiders. We'll try and take a look at who is gone, who remains and who we can look forward to playing in the not so distant future.

Season Review and Preview: Running Backs

Who Is Leaving: Right now, only David Schaefer, but there's the possibility of another defection. Shannon Woods is currently in the Mike Leach dog house and if I had to guess, I think Coach Leach has left the ball in Woods' court. It's his move. There's no doubting his talent, and being sent home before the Gator Bowl isn't a good sign that Woods is maturing. I suppose Woods could transfer, but he would have to transfer to a NCAA Division I Championship Subdivision school (i.e. a team like Sam Houston State) in order to play immediately. Whatever happens, I'm a little saddened if he doesn't play. I loved watching Woods burst onto the scene in 2006 and couldn't wait to see him play with a year under his belt in 2007. Talent wasted.

I think most Red Raider fans realize that Schaefer's utility was purely as a blocking back and he will certainly be missed. Schaefer was good at what he does and it's obvious that his stats won't really impress anyone, but his job wasn't to run or catch the ball, it was to block. Keep in mind that sophomore linebacker Ryan Hale is looking to takeover this blocking back position and I'd expect Adam James to play this position as well sometime in the near future. Let's take a look at Schaefer's career:

Year Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
2005 0 0 0 1 5 0
2006 0 0 0 1 5 0
2007 0 0 0 1 0 0

Who Returns: Same as the quarterbacks, everyone and then some. Again, there's quite a few running back options, even without Woods, and I think that Texas Tech is in a position to really have quite a few options.

Let's take a look at the stats from last year:

Player Ht/Wt Year Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Shannon Woods, #2 5-11/191 Jr. 84 439 8 34 138 2
Aaron Crawford, #32 5-11/202 Fr. 54 214 4 38 246 2
Kobey Lewis, #21 5-5/173 So. 50 189 2 24 178 0
Baron Batch, #25 5-11/209 RS So. - - - - - -
Jared Flannel, #22 5-11/171 RS Fr. - - - - - -

I think we can safely assume, or perhaps we'll just assume the worst, and Woods won't be around next year. I still like Texas Tech's options.

Aaron Crawford started to receive a bulk of the playing time against Colorado and effectively replaced Shannon Woods. Crawford's best game was against Baylor where he simply ran wild, or rather was a pass-catching machine and 4 touchdowns that Saturday afternoon. I think Crawford is a hard runner, who may not have the speed that some other backs may have, but I do think that he's a Big 12 caliber player and I think Texas Tech would do well to have him start next year.

I think Kobey Lewis is going to be the third down back for the foreseeable future. I think Leach likes Lewis' attitude and I think it's safe to say that he's a hard worker, otherwise he wouldn't be where he is today. I guess we could call Lewis the anti-Woods, not as much talent, but willing to do what it takes to contribute to the team.

I'm not sure that I can explain why, but I get the feeling that Batch is going to contribute more next year than we might think. He's got the size of Crawford and better speed. He took the entire 2007 year off to rehabilitate from injuries suffered during his freshman season of 2006, so he'll be a redshirt sophomore in 2008. I have a newfound respect about Batch after watching this video (hat-tip to FOR). Batch is a fighter and I expect him to compete for the starting job next year.

It would not surprise me in the least to see Jared Flannel move to a receiver position. I'm afraid that the current positional depth at running back and the overall excess of talent might keep Flannel off the field for a long period of time. I seem to recall that Flannel was injured his senior year of high school and was rehabbing all of last year. Flannel has 4.5 speed and after seeing the success that Britton has had by moving to receiver, I tend to think that Flannel might also be a good candidate for the same type of positional move. I tend to like guys at that receiver position who are accustomed to making opponents miss and not being afraid to hit a defensive back.

Who Is Going To Be Here: As far as I know, there's only 1 running back recruit expected to sign with Texas Tech in February and that's Harrison Jeffers.

Player Ht/Wt School Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TD
Harrison Jeffers 5-9/195 Lawton Eisenhower, OK 164 1093 9

I may be the only one here, but I'd still prefer to have Jeffers redshirt his first year. Not because I don't think that he has talent, because I do, other wise he wouldn't have 4 stars associated with his name, but rather it's because of the current positional depth. Texas Tech has gotten to the point in the development of their program that unless there is immediate need (i.e. Whitlock) or undeniable talent, then let the freshmen sit a year. Although I'm sure that Jeffers is incredibly talented, there's too much talent with Crawford, Lewis, Batch and possibly Flannel to move too far up the depth chart.

Depth Chart: Keep in mind that any depth chart does include current commitments and there may be additional commitments that could change everything. In other words, we're all just guessing.

Year Starter Backup Backup Backup Backup
2008 Aaron Crawford, So. Baron Batch, RS So. Kobey Lewis, Jr. Jared Flannel, RS Fr. Harrison Jeffers, RS
2009 Aaron Crawford, Jr. Baron Batch, Jr. Kobey Lewis, Sr. Harrison Jeffers, RS Fr. Jared Flannel, So.
2010 Aaron Crawford, Sr. Baron Batch, Sr. Harrison Jeffers, So. Jared Flannel, Jr.
2011 Harrison Jeffers, Jr. Jared Flannel, Sr.

Prior Positional Reviews and Previews:

  • Quarterbacks
  • Running Backs
  • Receivers
  • Offensive Line
  • Defensive Line
  • Linebackers
  • Secondary
  • Special Teams