Starting off the 2021 season appeared to look very similar to the 2020 season. Oklahoma was looking to find replacements for their top two running backs as the 2020 season began. Now, the Sooners will be looking to do the same. However, this time, the Sooners won’t have to look too far back to find some help. Today, our second of 10 positional previews takes a look at the running backs in our Oklahoma Sooners spring preview.
Oklahoma Sooners Spring Preview: Running Backs
Much like the quarterback position, Oklahoma suffered some loss at this spot. Rhamondre Stevenson elected to not take advantage of the extra senior season and has declared for the NFL Draft. The move was expected and perhaps was sealed by his dominant play against Florida in the Cotton Bowl. However, a move that wasn’t expected was the loss of T.J. Pledger. After starting while Stevenson finished off his suspension, Pledger turned into a nice change of pace back in reserve of Stevenson. Be that as it may, Pledger indeed hit the transfer portal and has moved on to Utah. As we continue looking at the Oklahoma running backs preview, we’ll review some of the additions.
The first addition to the running back corps was one that many people thought would happen, but couldn’t be certain. However, after opting out of the 2020 season, Kennedy Brooks is back with the Sooner football team bringing important depth. Additionally, the Sooners were looking for more depth. Partly because of missing out on running backs in the recruiting period and just needing more bodies. Oklahoma got more than it could have hoped for in securing the commitment of former Tennessee running back Eric Gray. The addition of Brooks and Gray will solidify the room along with returnees Seth McGowan and Marcus Major.
As we continue looking at the Oklahoma running backs preview, first, let’s look at Brooks. Brooks was a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher in 2018 and 2019. He has good hands out of the backfield and incredible vision. Gray may not have the vision of Brooks but could be a better receiver out of the backfield. The one cut and go back was one of the lone bright spots in the Volunteer offense rushing for 772 yards and adding 254 yards through the air. McGowan and Major will be the wildcards. McGowan received more playing time early on, but Major could be the change of pace power back that Oklahoma needs late in the game.
Taking a look at the H back position is honestly about as even as you could get. The Sooners return both Jeremiah Hall and Mikey Henderson at the position. There’s been some thoughts and clamoring from fans to see Henderson carry the ball a little more. However, with the depth, the Sooners have at the true running back position look for his carries to be limited. Having said that Henderson is more useful in the passing game and has the flexibility to be split out wide. Hall is more experienced and is a better blocker but Henderson is more elusive in the passing game. This looks like more of a co-start situation with Lincoln Riley at times looking at getting them both on the field.
This should be a battle going into Fall camp. Don’t be completely surprised to see Gray look to be behind the others based on years of experience in the system. But, his talent will certainly be undeniable. However it shakes out, the Sooners have four running backs that are capable of taking the lead role. McGowan could be the wildcard here. Having a full offseason to put some muscle on his frame could be pivotal to him making that additional leap. The competition will be fierce.
Projected Depth Chart
- Kennedy Brooks
- Eric Gray
- Seth McGowan
- Marcus Major
- Mikey Henderson
- Jeremiah Hall
In case you missed it
We will be previewing each and every positional unit on offense and defense over the coming weeks. If you missed anything, we will reference it here.