Josh Harvey,

Straka: Frogs backfield will remain deep despite Johnson’s departure

TCU might be losing a running back this offseason, but the room is still deep.

FORT WORTH – TCU running back Trevorris Johnson will be playing his final year of college football at Oregon State University next season as a graduate transfer, but redshirt senior’s departure shouldn’t have much bearing on the Horned Frogs’ backfield for the 2017 season.

Johnson rushed for 225 yards in 2016, including a 68-yard performance against Texas on Nov. 25 in Austin, but the transfer isn’t so much a surprise given the plethora of talent that TCU already has at running back.

Kyle Hicks has the No. 1 slot all but secured for his senior season this fall, coming off a 2016 campaign that saw him rush for 1,042 yards with a five-touchdown performance against Baylor on Nov. 4 in Waco. Hicks did not get any touches in TCU’s annual Spring Game on Saturday. Head coach Gary Patterson elected to keep the wear off the tires.

The 2017 season will also see the return of redshirt junior running back Shaun Nixon, who missed the entire 2016 season due to injury. Nixon served as the No. 3 man in the backfield for TCU in 2015, seeing action in all 13 games en route 66 yards over 16 carries on the season. Recruited as the No. 2 running back in Texas in 2014, Nixon can also catch, tallying a game-high 71 receiving yards in TCU’s memorable 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl victory.

If Hicks and Nixon alone don’t provide enough depth for the Frogs, they’ll be able to turn to a pair of sophomores who both saw action in 2016, Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. Anderson's 229 yard season on 27 carries was punctuated by a 70 yard rushing touchdown against Texas on Nov. 25. Olonilua on the other hand only recorded 122 yards on 15 carries over the season, but at 6 foot, 3 inches and 225 pounds, he can power through any defensive line with his size and speed. There will also be a fifth addition to the group of existing talent – the arrival of freshman Kenedy Snell. The five foot, eight inch running back out of Waxahachie, Texas totaled 16 touchdowns in his three years at Waxahachie High School – earning him four stars and an individual ranking of No. 89 overall in Texas for the 2017 recruiting class.

Patterson compared Snell’s speed to that of wider receiver KaVontae Turpin during TCU’s signing day press conference in February. Snell ran track at Waxahachie, posting a time of 10.48 seconds in the Class 5A 100-meter dash.

When it’s all said and done, the depth chart in the backfield will likely follow the order of Hicks and Nixon at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, while No. 3 and No. 4 will be up for grabs among Anderson and Olonilua. Snell’s talent would presumably put him at No. 5, but that could change depending on what happens on the practice field this summer.

Whether the order pans out as expected or unforeseen changes arise, nothing changes the fact that the Frogs are locked and loaded when it comes to talent in the backfield. The only question that remains is how that talent will translate once the 2017 season begins against Jackson State on Sept. 2.

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