I guarantee if you polled Oklahoma State fans before the first practice today and asked, what are you most curious about, the leading answer – the top answer on the board for Family Feud, the celebrity match answer on The Match Game – would have been Barry J. Sanders.
You are in full agreement with the media as the first time Sanders was in prime shooting range during the running back individual drills just inside the east side of the Sherman Smith Center the photographers were falling all over themselves and getting into each others way to get shot of number 26.
Nestled in between left tackle Victor Salako, who he has to hope will be making big blocks for him, and wide receiver Jhajuan Seales in the media guide is Sanders. You know, Sanders and the track man Seales might be a good 40-yard race. Sanders was good today. He showed the athletic skill expected and it appeared his month in Rob Glass' program did him some good. You know it was Glass that trained his dad, Barry Sanders, when Glass was a young apprentice strength coach. He did a good job then and has done a good job now.
It looked like Sanders was having to think some on running plays, that's not unexpected, but he still showed the smooth moves that you saw when he was running for a career 5,037 yards and 70 touchdowns at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City earning U.S. Army All-American honors.
Head coach Mike Gundy was reserved and conservative when asked about Sanders' first practice and plans for his new back.
"I'm not sure what our expectations are," Gundy said.
I know my plans and the plans of Oklahoma State fans are for him to bust out and have a great season. That's relative as in not as great as his dad, but realistic and great as in maybe a 1,000-yard rusher.
"I hope that he will fall into a guy that can contribute 10 to 12 touches a game, whether that's a run or a catch," said the conservative Gundy. "We know that he's matured and is a college graduate. He seems to be durable and have some elusiveness. His attitude is tremendous. We just need to see how it goes. He's going to get quality work over the next two weeks, so we'll see how it develops."
Now Sanders is part of a running back room and scenario under backs coach Marcus Arroyo that includes Chris Carson, also a senior and also hungry for success, Rennie Childs, also a senior and hungry for success, sophomore Jeff Carr, who is 13 pounds heavier and had a taste of playing last season, and a trio of freshmen that are here to play and not wanting to sit as in redshirt.
Carson is hungry. He came in on the wave of optimism that Sanders is riding into this season. When the good times didn't roll, Carson felt the sting of disappointment, his and the fans.
"It was definitely a big shock coming from a junior college to a D1 (college), so it definitely was a big jump for me," Carson said about the 2015 season. "As a team we did good. Our offensive line and our running backs, we all could have gotten a little better, but as a team we did pretty good. I just feel like this spring and summer we have improved the offensive line and running game a lot. As a unit we are going to be a lot better."
Now he is determined to show what he is capable of doing for the Cowboys.
"I mean, it really is just whatever helps the team. With him coming in, it's just going to make everybody else better," Carson said. "The offensive line will be a lot better, the run game as a unit will be a lot better. Of course it's going to make me work harder, it's going to make Rennie work harder, everybody else in the running backs work harder. With him coming in, that's a great addition for us as a team because I feel like we are just one step away from that Big 12 (championship)."
One thing is certain that when the running back position is earned and if the result is lots of success then somebody will have written a heckuva story for the media to jump on. The question is, when the bowl practices start which running back will the photographers be crowding around to shoot?