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Texas Tech Depth Chartin' :: The Running Backs

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Previously on Texas Tech Depth Chartin' :: The Quarterbacks ::

Tailback

Overall: A true position of strength for this team. Much of this unit's success will depend on the offensive line being able to replace three starters for the second straight year, but we'll get to that at a later point. I cannot recall a time when Texas Tech had, potentially, four 4-star running backs on the team at one given time. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in. There's some real talent in the backfield, it's going to be interesting to see how this talent is utilized.

Who Is Gone: Same as the quarterbacks, everyone returns, and that's a good thing. There's quite a bit of stability and competition at the running back position and that's something I absolutely love.

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Baron Batch 5-11/205 SR Starter
Eric Stephens 5-8/182 SO First Backup
Harrison Jeffers 5-9/204 SO Compete for Second Backup
Delans Griffin 5-11/180 FR Redshirt

Who Is Still Around: Baron Batch: This one is pretty easy. I don't think there's any question that Batch is the unquestioned starter this year. Batch will be one of this team's most important offensive performers in 2010 and if Brown increases the carries from 30% to 40% then Batch's potential impact on this team will be even greater. In fact, one of the things that will be interesting is whether or not Batch will top 1,000 yards on the ground this year. In 2009, Batch accounted for 16.9% of this team's all-purpose yards. There's a lot of yards to go around, and I can't shake the fact that I truly believe that this team's success will be largely dependent on Batch's ability to churn out positive yards on the ground.

Eric Stephens: I'll be honest, I was shocked when Stephens forced his way onto the field in 2009 and pleasantly surprised. The biggest issue that Stephens must improve his putting the ball on the turf too often. Other than that flaw, I think Stephens have tremendous potential to be a very good running back for Texas Tech. I don't want this to sound like a knock, because it's not intended to be, but Stephens isn't great at any particular dimension of his game, but he's just really solid. He's not a burner, but he's plenty fast, he's not big, but he's not small, he runs hard, but he's not going to run over people, etc. I'd also be remiss in not stating that I think the battle between Stephens and Jeffers will be incredibly close and right now, I think Stephens is ahead of Jeffers, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Jeffers make a move in the spring.

Harrison Jeffers: I earnestly believe that Leach loved what Jeffers brought to the table in terms of game-breaking speed. I have no issues in stating that no one gets to the corner quicker than Jeffers and if forced to choose one player that could break a game wide open, it would be Jeffers. With all of that being said, I think there's a reason why Jeffers was behind Stephens in the running back competition and he only received 35 carries in 2009 despite absolutely destroying the scout team as a true freshman. Jeffers was in Leach's doghouse for whatever reason, but now he has an opportunity to impress a new coaching staff. I wholeheartedly believe that there's room for this team to have three outstanding running backs and I get the feeling that it's now up to Jeffers to prove that he belongs.

Delans Griffin:  Griffin is another game-breaking sort of player.  The same type of player mentioned above.  Griffin has the ability to break long runs, is a legitimate 4.5 running back and is already adept at catching the ball out of the backfield, i.e. he's a spread running back and I that's a compliment.  He's not going to run over you, at least he didn't in high school, he merely ran past you.  That's probably going to be Griffin's biggest adjustment, is just learning how to lower his head and grind out yards.  Griffin may be a possible grad-risk, so just keep that in mind if he doesn't hit campus in the summer.  We might get to see Tuberville's ability to send players to a JUCO to then return upon getting their grades in order.

Fullback

Overall: There's going to be quite a bit of guess-work until the spring practices start. So I've decided to take absolute and utter guesses about the fullback position, and of course there's also the question if there will even be a fullback. Honestly, I have no idea, but I can say that I thought that Acevedo did an okay job last year at the position, despite the fact that he wasn't utilized that often offensively, but I think that a team player like Acevedo has utility with this team.

Who Is Gone: After the departure of Ryan Hale in 2008, Leach shied away from the fullback position. Acevedo didn't see very many snaps at the fullback spot, and that meant that the jumbo package that Leach ran in 2008, which featured Hale at fullback and Adam James at tight end, faded away in 2009. It will be interesting to see if Brown resurrects this position and who might fill this spot.

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Gerardo Acevedo 6-1/197 SR Starter
Aaron Crawford 5-11/204 JR Pure Speculation
Andre McCorkle 6-2/204 JR Pure Speculation

Who Is Still Around: Gerardo Acevedo: As stated above, it's going to be interesting to see if and how Brown utilizes the fullback. Acevedo should at the very least be capable of handling the spot opportunity, but I'm not sure that Brown is will implement a full-time running back in that fullback spot. I'm thinking that this may be a situation where if there are some goal line opportunities then maybe he gets a look.

Aaron Crawford: Again, this is pure speculation. For those of you who have been around for a while, you'll know that I have an appreciation for Crawford, who played as a true freshman while Shannon Woods was working his way out of the doghouse. And I'd be remiss in now stating that I thought Crawford was instrumental against Oklahoma in 2007 in getting that win. Crawford should have a place on this team, and maybe it's as a fullback that has quite a bit of running ability. I'm not sold that Crawford has the ability to be a game-breaker as a tailback, but he's a tough runner, and maybe he finds his place as a fullback in some form or fashion.

Andre McCorkle: I know nothing about McCorkle other than he is a transfer from Texas State, initially started out as a running back after transferring to Texas Tech (I think), and then was moved to a defensive back position. With McCorkle, you have a player that could probably add on a few pounds and be a pretty effective fullback if needed. I have no idea what type of runner he actually is, and this is a longshot, but I don't know that McCorkle sees the field, especially considering last year's recruiting class and the current crop of defensive backs. It's going to get crowded pretty quickly and McCorkle may do well to find a spot where he can actually get some burn.