With signing day 2009 in the rearview mirror, InsideMizzou will take a look at how Missouri's class compared to its biggest Big XII North rivals at each of the position groups.
Today we look at the running backs.
Missouri – The Tigers brought in just one running back in their 2009 class, Kendial Lawrence of Rockwell Heath High School in Texas. Lawrence exploded onto the recruiting scene during his senior season by totaling 2,679 yards and 43 touchdowns on the ground.
At 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, Lawrence will certainly not be the biggest back in the Big XII. However, he has Missouri fans excited because he seems taylor-made for Missouri's spread attack.
Lawrence ran almost exclusively out the shotgun while at Rockwell Heath and excelled behind their zone-blocking scheme. Lawrence does not have elite speed, but he is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the football.
Nebraska – While the Tigers brought in only one back in '09, the Cornhuskers added three backs to their roster this week.
Rex Burkhead (Plano, TX) is listed as a receiver in Scout's database, but should start out at running back for the Huskers. Burkhead comes in at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds and played just about every offensive skill position during his high school career. From the running back position, Burkhead can cut on a dime and shows great hands out of the backfield. Where he is lacking is top-end speed. Do not expect many breakaways from Burkhead.
Also coming to Nebraska from Texas will be Dontrayevous Robinson (6-foot-1, 200). Robinson never picked up a lot of big-name offers, partially because he ended his recruitment in May of '08. Robinson shows good power, reads his blocks well and is very rarely taken down by the first tackler. Much like Burkhead however, he is not much of a big-play threat.
Nebraska's final running back recruit of '09 is another May commitment, C.J. Zimmerer (Omaha, NE). Zimmerer is 6-foot-2, 215 and profiles best at the fullback position for the Huskers.
Wearing the number 45 and taking option hand-offs right up the middle in high school, Zimmerer looks like the prototypical Nebraska fullback from years past. It will be interesting to see how he is utilized by Head Coach Bo Pelini.
Kansas – The jewel of the Kansas' running backs was 6-foot-2, 225 Toben Opurum (Plano, TX). Kansas was able to land Opurum over the likes of Florida and Notre Dame partially because of their willingness to let Opurum play running back as opposed to fullback. For a back his size, Opurum has good deceptiveness and shows quality hands out of the backfield.
After watching his film, it is easy to see why so many schools wanted this talented player at fullback. Much like the Nebraska backs, Opurum will not be much of a threat to take it the distance.
The second running back brought in by Kansas is 5-foot-9, 175 Deshaun Sands (Sunrise, FL). Sands is the polar opposite of Opurum in that he is much smaller and quicker than Oprurum. Sands shows good speed and is a very capable receiver out of the backfield and could even play the slot if desired.