January 11, 2012

Spring Look: RB position huge concern

How do things stand with the Red Raiders as they prepare for spring football? We will be breaking down the team position group by position group to give you a good idea of what to expect once Texas Tech opens spring practice on Feb. 17.

We're continuing with the running back position.

The dominant story

Both senior Eric Stephens and sophomore DeAndre Washington will miss at least the spring practice sessions as they continue to recover from major knee injuries sustained during the 2011 season.

Both injuries were incredibly unfortunate. Stephens took a took a late helmet-to-knee hit from by Damontre Moore, intentional or not the way Stephens got hit tore his ACL and MCL. Washington tore his ACL on Missouri's dated turf a week after two other players tore their ACL's on the same turf.

Receiver Alex Torres also tore his ACL on the Missouri field and Lonnie Edwardssuffered a knee sprain at Missouri as well.

Anyway, there should have been two healthy running backs to take snaps this spring in sophomores Kenny Williams and Ronnie Daniels, but Daniels' future with the team is uncertain after a violation of team rules last season.

That leaves Williams as the only running back that's guaranteed to be available in the spring. One running back out of four.

Williams rushed for 135 yards on 43 carries last season and scored two touchdowns.

What can Tech do?

There's not a good answer for this question.

Williams certainly will get enough reps to be evaluated fully by the coaching staff and we wouldn't be surprised if he's the starter on Tech's first offensive drive of 2012 by default.

But he can't take all the handoffs by himself.

Receiver Bradley Marquez, a former running back in high school, said back in December he'd be willing to help out in the backfield to take some of the workload off Williams.

More practical, however, is using kick returners. Tech got a good one in Riverside Community College transfer Sadale Foster who played some running back in the L.A. suburb and is expected to be a big part of Tech's return game. Then there's also running back Ben McRoy whose game day role has almost solely been kickoff return.

A look past spring

Tech hopes both Stephens and Washington will be available for the 2012 season but it's really just a matter of how they respond to rehabilitation. Every injury and every person is different.

Hopefully Daniels can be reinstated on the team. There are reports things are taking shape in his situation and the lean is toward him staying.

Foster and McRoy could get real shots at running the ball on game day if they can have a breakout spring.

But with all the work Williams is about to take on and considering his health and positive attitude, expect Williams to play a much bigger role on the 2012 team.

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