SPRING PREVIEW: Running backs

YOU ALREADY KNOW that Oregon State has one of the best backs in the nation in Jacquizz Rodgers. But as is usually the case when a team has a star in the backfield, it is the depth at running back that has Beaver fans concerned. Developing that depth will be one of the focuses when spring ball kicks off in less than two weeks in Corvallis.

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One of the best running backs in the nation returns in Jacquizz Rodgers, who rumbled for his second consecutive 1,000 yard season and landed on the first team All-Pac-10 team once again.  Expect more of the same from the 5-foot-7 dynamo in 2010.

Despite being just a true freshman last season, Jovan Stevenson proved to be a solid backup playing in 11 games and carrying the ball 26 times for 138 yards and one touchdown.

Both Beaver ballcarries proved to be reliable hauling the pigskin -- each averaged over five yards a carry and lost a combined four fumbles in 307 rushing attempts.

After making the switch to the offensive side of the ball, Will Darkins became more involved with the offense as the year wore on.  He didn't get any carries, but his tenacious blocking helped keep Quizz fresh late in the season while paving the way for Rodgers' single season school record 21 rushing touchdowns.

Riley has stated the Beavers will use more two back sets this year -- that's good news for both Darkins and Stevenson.


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Depth took a hit when Ashton Jefferson was kicked off the team following the Las Vegas Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules.  The coaches were counting on his bruising running style to help limit the hits on Rodgers, and they were hoping to start to prepare for life without Quizz in two years by getting him some seasoning in 2010.

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Will Ryan McCants break out of his funk and become a true rushing threat?

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No injuries have been reported.

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Jovan Stevenson. With Jefferson's departure, it is important that the youngster make a leap this spring. He has the skills to carry and catch the ball -- he needs to develop his blocking to become an all-around solid player. The coaches already know what Quizz can do, and they might be looking to get Stevenson a lot of contact work this spring.

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If prior springs under Riley are any indication at all, Quizz won't be doing much during the scrimmages. Star running backs prior under Riley - such as Yvenson Bernard -  have had nothing to prove during spring ball and have been held out of scrimmages and contact. Last year was a no-brainer with Quizz coming off a shoulder injury. But Riley employed a no tackle rule on Bernard, even in drills, when he was healthy. The prediction here is that Quizz will get the same treatment. .

Getting Quizz' backups, scholarship and walk-on alike, as many carries as possible will be the primary focus.

McCants should once again get a chance to prove his worth while Stevenson looks to lock up the second spot on the depth chart.

Unless McCants has a spring epiphany (and brings consistent aggressiveness to his game), there was nothing from last season that would indicate he will leapfrog Stevenson.  Although unlikely, this could also open the door for Jordan Jenkins to get more carries, depending on how he performs this spring.

Also, look for Darkins to get a few carries.  The plays won't necessarily make it to the regular season playbook, but the collisions should be fun to watch.


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  • Jr. Jacquizz Rodgers (5-7, 191) - competed in the UW Last Chance Meet in the 60-meter dash checking in at 7.24...first team all-conference in 2010...23 career starts, 13 straight...tied a school record for the most points for a season by a Beaver with 132...his 22 total touchdowns, (21 rushing) tied for third in the nation...fourth at OSU with 2,693 career rushing yards...school record holder for single season rushing touchdowns 21...Associated Press third team All-American...the fifth player in school history to post multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons
     
  • Sr. Ryan McCants (6-1, 229) - played in four games in 2009 after coming off of knee surgery he suffered in the spring...carried the ball just six times for 26 yards...three career starts...for his career he has 91 carries for 363 yards (3.8 ypc) and two touchdowns with a long of 35 yards, seven receptions for 34 yards...needs to run with authority and purpose if he wants playing time
     
  • So. Jovan Stevenson (5-11, 184) - one of eight true freshman to play in 2009...ran for 138 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries (5.3 ypc), caught five passes for 59 yards...only tackled once for loss of yardage...solid hands...hits the hole quickly...needs to work on his blocking to become a well rounded back
     
  • Sr. Will Darkins (6-1, 226) - three career starts...used exclusively as a blocker in 2009 as he did not get one carry...started two of the last three games of the season...had a good offseason in the weight room according to strength coach Bryan Miller...Riley said he will use the fullback more in 2010
     
  • So. Jordan Jenkins (6-1, 210) - had a strong showing last spring and fall...a powerful runner...named offensive scout MVP in 2009...could see his time increase due to lack of depth at running back...played in nine games last year carrying the ball two times for six yards
     
  • Jr. Josh Parish (5-11, 212) - has been the roster since fall of 2007...faces an uphill battle for playing time...a regular on the scout teams...did not carry the ball during the regular season last year
     
  • RFr. Dylan Parsons (5-9, 203) - backup to Darkins at fullback...blue collared, hard nosed runner...did not carry the ball during the regular season last year
     
  • So. Clayton York (6-0, 220) - has added 12 pounds since arriving on campus in fall of 2008...did not carry the ball during the regular season last year...played on special teams making one tackle
     

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