Riley wants RB to define itself this spring

AMONG MIKE RILEY's goals this spring, for a clear starter to emerge at the running back spot. But there's more to it than that. Because for Oregon State, as they replace one of the best running backs in program history in 2011, the solution doesn't necessarily involve only one player.

BF.C this week asked Mike Riley about his goals for the spring at running back, and the head man of the Beavs said he would like to come out of the 15-practice session that begins March 28 with the roles well defined.

"First of all, who will be our No. 1 tailback, probably important to distinguish No. 1 and 2 at least. Also, to categorize them beyond that -- who is going to be the best third down back?" said Riley.

That's the goal, anyway. But whether it comes to fruition really depends on how the players perform. Replacing Jacquizz Rodgers, said Riley, is a multi-faceted challenge.

"It may be very clear to us that we don't have Quizz, (who) was the best first down back and third down back. So we're going to have our eyes open on what the best way is to play this group," said Riley.

Could that mean the Beavs come out of the spring talking more about a "running back by committee" situation?

"It may be by committee, but we would like to define the position on the depth chart if we can," said Riley.

WHAT IS CLEAR headed into spring drills, there are plenty of viable candidates -- for any of the roles.

Sure, Ryan McCants, Jordan Jenkins, Jovan Stevenson, Malcolm Marable and Terron Ward will all be vying for the No. 1 spot. But beyond that, they're all competing for the third down role.

If one running back can do it all, like Quizz did, great. But if OSU can be better by using a different guy here and there, in varying situations, Riley won't hesitate to go that route. And two touted freshmen, Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods, arrive in the fall.

RILEY MADE IT a point this week to mention Marable and Ward, that he's excited to see what they can do this spring. Both, along with Stevenson, have had good offseasons. Nine pounds might not sound like a lot but given Marable's 5-7 frame, it's worth noting. Marable checks in at 166 pounds this spring.

Stevenson (5-11) will look different out on the field this spring, too. He's gone from 186 to 199 pounds. He saw a good amount of turns on third down as a freshman in 2009, something that could help him lay claim as an all-around starter.

McCants was already a beast at 6-1, 228 last year. He weighs 237 pounds this spring.

Jenkins (6-1) has actually dropped a few pounds, going from 211 to 207, which could help his speed and quickness.

As for Ward, who arrived at OSU in January, he's put together, listed at 5-7, 190 pounds.

Food for thought – his first season at OSU, Quizz was listed at 5-6, 180 pounds on the roster.


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