One thing the running back unit has is lots of bodies. There are no less than four players that will compete for significant playing time. Jimtavis Walker, Yvenson Bernard and the recently departed Charles Burnley displayed their skills for the starting spot several months ago but none of them separated themselves from the pack. Transfer Nate Wright and freshman Patrick Fuller will join the fray this month.
Walker has the body to take a beating and demonstrated his ability to knock people over throughout April. The transfer established himself as the leader of the tailbacks showing the way with his work ethic and focused mindset. A troublesome back injury slowed down Walker as he was never at one hundred percent.
He has had the entire summer to rehabilitate and strengthen his muscles, but as anyone who has experienced a back injury knows, it is extremely hard to fully recover and one twist or one hit could put Walker on the sidelines. Walker has the potential to be a 1,000-yard rusher but won't be due to his injuries.
With Burnley gone Bernard is the most mobile and shifty of the backs.
He has the ability to make defenders miss in the backfield and is creative in the open field. His nifty footwork and swift lateral movement help him weave through traffic enabling to pick up extra yards.
Although Bernard is talented, he does not have the body to carry the rushing load nor can he endure the punishment it requires to rush for quadruple digits on the ground. He is tough though and one of the most explosive and exciting players on the team. Bernard knows the playbook the best and is working extra hard to refine his blocking skills.
Junior college transfer Nate Wright comes in the mold of a quicker, more elusive version of Dwight Wright. He has quick feet and breakaway speed but he first must prove he can pick up the rushing and blocking schemes before receiving playing time.
One of the most anticipated recruits to join the team recently is freshman Patrick Fuller. In high school he dominated the competition rushing for over 2,000 yards and 20 plus touchdowns. He runs with a nice blend of power and finesse allowing him to grind out the tough yards and move the pile forward or explode to the outside for a big gain. Unfortunately, Fuller has not played organized football in over a year and has a lot of catching up to do.
The good news is he did make it to Corvallis early and stayed in good shape. The California native has the instincts and the athleticism to succeed. If he can pick up the playbook, he could be the next great running back at Oregon State.
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