Camp Battle: Running back

A trio of running backs battle for the top spot in the Sooners' backfield

As fall camp winds down for Oklahoma, there are still a few battles left to be decided. During the next few days, Sooners Illustrated will bring you the six key positions that are still up for grabs. We will break down each candidate for the position, present the evidence and make our best courtroom-like case for the player. At the end, Justin will rule on which player is to be deemed the starter.

It’s time for opening statements.

Running back

Keith Ford vs. Alex Ross vs. Samaje Perine

Ford background: Ford is the most experienced of the bunch, but he still has yet to make a real splash for Oklahoma. He’s just a sophomore, but in limited action, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry. Although, he did have a case of fumble-itis that got him in trouble with the coaching staff last year. He worked his way out of a redshirt last year, and in a senior-heavy backfield, he earned 23 touches.

Case for Ford: Freshmen fumbling issues are like chicken pox. Just about everybody gets them, and it’s better if you get them early. He’s worked on it since last year, and they’ll be a thing of the past. What’s important is that his downhill running style will be perfect behind Oklahoma’s offense line. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry in limited action last year as a true freshman. Imagine his progression.

Ross background: After working his way up through the ranks, taking a redshirt and playing on special teams, it’s time for Ross – a former Jenks standout – to make an impact on the team. He was an UnderArmour All-American and a four-star recruit as the No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma.

Case for Ross: Everything out of camp about Ross has been positive. He’s competing. He appears to be focused on the task. And most importantly, he’s ready. Ross has a rare blend of size and speed at 221 pounds. It’s something not a lot of other running backs have. He’s a physical specimen and is ready to take the next step.

Perine background: Perine is ready to be a starting college running back right now, at least physically. He’s big. He’s strong. In his last two years in high school, he gained just less than 3,500 yards. He’s a weight-room machine and someone who surprised even his fellow running backs with how often he works out.

Case for Perine: Look at him. He looks the part. He’s ready. He just needs the time. Enough said.

Hite’s verdict: Perine’s inclusion in this list is almost mythical. He’s got incredible potential, but ultimately, it’s too early for him to be considered a starter. It comes down to two running backs with a combined 26 carries. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s what the Sooners are facing. With no great strides coming out of camp, I’m forced to settle on the most obvious choice. Oklahoma’s Game 1 starting running back is Keith Ford.

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