IN FOCUS: Running Back

OREGON STATE FANS might have been a bit spoiled when it comes to their running backs in recent years – after Yvenson Bernard graduated, Quizz Rodgers took over the very next season. Most teams aren't that fortunate, to have a great running back followed immediately by another without some sort of seasonal gap between the two. Can the Beavs somehow do it again in 2011?

The evidence thus far says no.

The evidence this spring at OSU indicated what is on tap for 2011 is a phrase that makes many a fan cringe...

Running-back-by-committee.

It's still possible Storm Woods or Malcolm Agnew explodes onto the scene in August. But that's also expecting an awful lot out of a guy a few months removed from his senior prom.

No one player emerged this spring at running back.

Jordan Jenkins was doing well until he got hurt. Malcolm Marable and Terron Ward were battling it out, seemingly for the situational No. 3 spot, and Ward moved ahead. And then Ward got hurt.

Meanwhile, Ryan McCants, who has always been a physical specimen, continued to do some good things -- followed by some very ordinary things.

There's always been skepticism surrounding McCants, he's never reached that level of consistency fans expected of him. This spring, he had some moments and then he just didn't run well at times -- he just doesn't get the yards you might expect. McCants will be a senior this year and time is running out for him to silence his critics.

Jovan Stevenson seemed to take a step back this spring. He seemed to be lacking the things that would enable him to move to that next level. Still, that might be a bit premature. He was shaking off the rust this spring, having sat out last year with a shoulder injury.

He'll be just a redshirt sophomore this season, and he's a quick back with good hands.

Being a good college running back is in great part about running confidently, and gains in that department for McCants and Stevenson this fall would appear to be much needed.

McCants and Stevenson came out of the spring as the top two running backs, but it was almost as if by default – no one truly challenged them. And Ward and/or Marable are guys to watch this fall when it comes to that.

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