If you assume that the Longhorns' current setup is the one they'd like to continue to deploy, Texas's running backs can be pushed into three groups: every-down backs like Johnathan Gray, bigger (say, 220-plus-pound) backs like Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron and smaller, all-purpose scatbacks like Daje Johnson who play a dual running back/wide receiver role.
Can certain backs play multiple roles? Of course. Brown, for instance, will play the role of every-down back, but he's also capable of sliding into the "fullback" role when Texas goes with a two-back look — like with the Longhorns' two-back pistol — with a smaller back like Gray. That's not to say that Brown IS a fullback. It's just that he's a bigger back who can play that position.
And Texas's 2014 running back recruiting follows that same path. Donald Catalon could be a very similar back to what Gray brings in terms of size and home-run hitting ability. D'Onta Foreman came into Texas camp and weighed in at 217 pounds, not far off from what Brown weighted at a similar stage in his career. And then you have Kevin Shorter, who doesn't necessarily have the frame to be an every-down back, but whose explosion, versatility and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield could make him an ideal fit for the scatback/receiver type.
Now, the question is how the Longhorns will handle the 2015 class. When the 2015 players show up on campus, Brown and Bergeron will have graduated, while Gray and Johnson will be entering their senior seasons. That means that the Longhorns will likely have to fill all three roles in the 2015 crop.
The good news is that the 2015 in-state class is stacked, not just at running back, but at the specific type of running backs that the Longhorns need. Looking for that every-down back? Texas sits in a really nice spot for Sotonye Jamabo, a top-five overall player in the state and the state's top overall running back. The bigger back role would be filled if Texas could lure highly recruited Rockwall talent Chris Warren to Austin. Warren came to Texas camp this summer and ran 4.5-flat while weighing in at 225 pounds.
Both of those two would be Texas's top options for those positions, though the top scatback, Splendora's Jay Bradford, picked Texas A&M. That still leaves Texas with a number of options at that position, including JaMycal Hasty (offer) and Patrick Carr (no offer yet). Hasty comes from the same Longview program of recent Texas commitment Dorian Leonard, while Carr is a slick space player from The Woodlands.
All of which is to say that Texas could, once again, have a three-running back class in 2015 if things work out. And in doing so, Texas will have landed a young two-deep at the position that should hold up for years to come.