Last year, the Baylor Bears were loaded in the backfield. They had one of the most explosive runningbacks in the nation in Lache Seastrunk, and a dominating short yardage banger in Glasco Martin. Behind them, the Bears had a lot of questions as youth and inexperience littered the rest of the roster. However, the tough questions were asked and answered as two key players for 2014 showed that they had what it took to lead the Bears rushing attack moving forward.
CURRENT STARTERS – 8
|881 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns in 2013||295 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns in 2013||Impact RS Freshman, 48th best runner in 2013 class||2014 Spring Enrollee, possible redshirt|
Shock Linwood is the presumed starter for now, as Chafin is currently listed as a co-starter, but Linwood did more than enough last year to earn this spot. With excellent balance and good burst, Linwood ran for 881 yards. His 6.9 yards per carry was one of the best in the nation, and he added 8 touchdowns as well. Linwood is one of the top returning rushers in the Big 12, and will be looking to build on his surprising freshman campaign.
POSITIONAL DEPTH - 8
The depth behind Linwood is young, raw and un-tested. Devin Chafin showed well at times in 2013, rushing for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Chafin is the bigger of the two backs, built more for the Glasco Martin role of getting those tough yards and touchdowns. The sophomore tailback played very well in the spring, and is battling Linwood for the starting spot.
The third man on the list though might be the brightest name of the bunch. Johnny Jefferson is already starting to get quite a bit of publicity for his performance in spring ball, and the redshirt freshman is an exciting commodity. He has excellent vision and speed, and just looks like a big-time running back. Behind Jefferson is 4-star freshman Terence Williams. The 6-foot-3 tailback is fighting Devin Chafin for that "thunder" role in the offense, but could redshirt in 2014 to develop more. Williams is a top-notch recruit and came to Baylor with a host of offers from traditional powers.
CLASS BALANCE – 5
As you can tell, with no seniors on the roster, and just one junior (who is out of the season with a major knee injury) the Bears don't have much balance in terms of experience. They don't have a single player who has been a running back in college for 3 years or more, as Webb and Tagive both switched from other positions recently. Webb moved over to running back early in the 2013 season when injuries forced him up the depth chart from his Safety position. He did move back to safety later in the year, but the coaches liked what they gave them in the early showing enough to move him to offense full-time.
The Bears are rebuilding their depth currently, with a signing in each of the last three classes of one of their top running back targers. Jefferson was the first, with Williams following in 2013. Current commit JaMycal Hasty is the Bears lone verbal right now, but they are looking at several other 4-star running backs to add to Hasty in the backfield.
NEXT YEAR – 9
Barring injury, transfer or suspension, all of the running backs should be back in 2015. All of the key guys will have another year under their belt. The question is, who will be starting a year from now? Will Linwood build on a very good freshman campaign and take the position over in 2014, or will Johnny Jefferson storm out of the gate and earn the job in his freshman season. Whoever does win the job throughout the year and into 2015 will surely be one of the top returning running backs in the Big 12.
FUTURE YEARS – 5
Commit JaMycal Hasty
That is right, five out of 5. A perfect score for the future. What is not to like about studs Johnny Jefferson or Terence Williams or JaMycal Hasty toting the rock in the Bears offense for the next 3-5 season? The Bears are loaded with young talent in the backfield, and could add another 4-star recruit in the 2015 class in addition to Hasty. The future at running back is as bright as anywhere else for the Bears.
The Bears spread offense keys everything they do off of the running game. Their deadly play-action passing attack is pretty pedestrian if the safeties don't have to worry about a running threat. Baylor has been a Top-15 rushing team over the past 3 seasons, ranking 13th, 14th and 10th in rushing yards per game over that stretch. They are a power running offense, that needs good running back play. They have had a 1,000 yard rusher four years in a row, and will look to continue that streak in 2014.
TOTAL – 39
This is a position with young talent, and some proven producers with a great outlook for the next few seasons. Their lack of class balance is the only thing keeping this from being much higher on the list. The Baylor running attack appears to be in very good hands for 2014 and beyond.