Spring Personnel: SaDale Foster, Ronnie Daniels Bradley Marquez, Kenny Williams
Fall Additions: Quinton White, Eric Stephens, DeAndre Washington
Pre-Spring Power Rating: 81
Post-Spring Power Rating: 78
Money Quote: "SaDale Foster, we wouldn't have known about him if those two other kids [Stephens and Washington] hadn't gotten hurt. But now we do, and I feel a little bit better about our running back situation going into the fall."—Neal Brown
Spring Performance: For many a month now, Texas Tech's running back stable has been like a revolving door at the most popular Chinese super-buffet in town. And unfortunately, there is no indication that the turnstile will come to a halt any time soon.
Ace backs DeAndre Washington and Eric Stephens exited the scene with injuries last season and sat out the spring. Their status for next season is still up in the air.
Ronnie Daniels, a practice phenom in 2011, was suspended for most of last season, reinstated for the spring, but has since been dismissed permanently from the program.
With Daniels' departure Tech loses its most talented back since Bam Morris. Daniels', in turn, has tossed a potentially tremendous NFL future into the crapper. But at least Tommy Tuberville no longer has questions about Daniels' status.
Bradley Marquez has been the team's pinball wizard, bouncing from running back to receiver and back again so many times that one loses count. Prior to the dismissal of Daniels it looked like he would settle at receiver, probably his best position. Now that's no sure thing. Marquez could easily open fall camp back at running back.
All of the above was bad, or at best, neutral news. Fortunately however, the Red Raiders did catch one break this spring. SaDale Foster, a lightly regarded recruit who was slated for punt return, and perhaps some receiver duty, was given a crack at his old high school position of running back and was one of camp's biggest hits.
Foster, a five-foot-eight 195-pounder, is cut from the same cloth as Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington (as well as most other Big 12 running backs). He's ultra-quick, shifty, and has good acceleration as well as the speed to take it to the house. Foster also finishes runs surprisingly well for a smallish back.
Given that Foster will very likely play a significant role in the 2012 Tech backfield, offensive coordinator Neal Brown spent the tail end of spring attempting to find out more about this bolt from the blue.
During the Red-Black scrimmage he got Foster multiple consecutive reps to test his conditioning. Brown put him in situations where he was forced to pick up blitzes. The jury is still out on whether Foster is a complete back at this point, but there is hope.
The quiet, steady workhorse throughout all this turmoil has been sophomore Kenny Williams, the team's only power back. Unfortunately however, he has not been immune to the nuttiness that has beset the Red Raider backfield.
Williams was involved in a possible credit card abuse incident, and his status too is not entirely known. The general sentiment is that Williams will weather this storm, but the only sentiment that really counts is that of Lubbock's District Attorney.
Be that as it may, Williams had a solid if unspectacular spring. Neal Brown regards him as one of Tech's most improved offensive players, but this improvement did not manifest itself in the form of manifold impressive plays.
On the positive side, however, Williams improved dramatically toward the end of last season when, through attrition, he became the team's feature back. Williams, if on the roster, must continue to improve because he once again could be Tech's mail-carrier by default.