Pre-Spring Report: Running Backs previews the Oregon State running backs heading into spring ball.


Spoiled. That is what Beaver fans were until last year. Watching Ken Simonton and Steven Jackson tear up the turf was a privilege and their value to the team and high level of skill was made even more evident when the offensive line was exposed.  Dwight Wright was not a bad running back and neither was Ryan Cole, but neither could escape defenders when there was no room to run.

The veteran(s):
Sophomore Yvenson Bernard is the veteran of the backfield after Cole transferred to Eastern Washington. Bernard will definitely see plenty of playing time, but not as the Beavers number one back.

Sophomore Olaniyi Sobomehin impressed coaches with his work ethic in drills earning him playing time during games. Sobomehin is primarily used as a fullback for blocking and with the fullback set to take a more prominent role in the offense his playing time will increase.

The new guy(s):
Florida transfer Jimtavis Walker sat out one year due to transfer rules and was impressive during fall camp and on the scout team throughout the season. He has powerful legs, runs with power and spent plenty of time with the first team offense, which should result in a smooth transition to starting back. Walker will move atop the depth chart if he works through his off field issues.

Redshirt freshman Michael   Jones is big and talented. Jones has little chance of playing this year and may be asked to move to fullback. Freshman Markel Devorce dominated his competition in high school. Plain and simple, Devorce is a workhorse and an extremely talented athlete. He will have to wait at least one year to compete for a starting role, but after 365 days, look out.

Junior college transfer Nate Wright gives OSU a rounded, three-deep backfield. Wright is in the similar mold as Dwight Wright and can also line up as a receiver. A good change of pace from the powerful running style of Walker.

Spring ball:
Riley will have three running backs to juggle. Walker was the front-runner before his legal troubles and he will have to work extra hard to earn the respect of the coaches again. Bernard is talented and while Walker will top the depth chart Bernard will see plenty of time.

Wright could steal some playing time away from Bernard, but don’t count on it. Bernard is hungry and the coaches believe in his ability.

One to watch:
Jimtavis Walker. Walker is the most complete running back on the team. His body is built to take a beating and he is ready to carry the rushing load. Can he stay out of trouble and put his off field issues behind him? Only time will tell.

Riley says:

On Jimtavis Walker - “Jimtavis is clearly a guy who can compete for the starting job, however he has to resolve some issues.”

On Yvenson Bernard - “Yvenson is a very good player who gives us some versatility with his ability to run and receive.”

RB Roster:

  • Jimtavis Walker (5-10, 225) – junior transfer from Florida who has the inside track on the starting role
  • Yvenson Bernard (5-9, 299) – sophomore who wants more playing time
  • Michael Jones (6-0, 247) – bruising redshirt freshman who could be asked to play fullback
  • Olaniyi Sobomehin (6-1, 228) – sophomore with a fantastic work ethic, will see time primarily as a blocking fullback
  • Nate Wright (5-10, 180) – junior college transfer will see time at running back and receiver
  • Markel Devorce (5-11, 195) – will redshirt and could be the next great running back at OSU

More Previews:
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Offensive Line

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