In 2010, Texas had issues at running back. That's the only way to describe a situation that fluctuated between a natural fullback (Cody Johnson), a back whose head injury during the season ended his career (Tre Newton) and a still-yet-to-emerge scatback (Fozzy Whittaker).
So the Longhorns did something about it. 2011 brought not just Malcolm Brown, who was arguably the top running back prospect in the country, but an underrated, physical runner in Joe Bergeron. And the 2012 class brought in Johnathan Gray, like Brown, considered to be at the top of his class of running backs.
Fast forward to the 2013 season, when both Gray and Brown approached the 800-yard mark and each displayed the kind of ability that made them such highly sought-after prospects.
But the new coaching staff, coming in for the 2014 season, faces a more long-term issue at the position. Brown and Bergeron are now seniors-to-be, while Gray will be attempting to come back from an Achilles tear. Add in the fact that one of the Longhorns' top commitments at the position, Kevin Shorter, sustained a serious injury and might not play college ball, and the running back position is one in need of an influx of young talent.
Texas does have some apparent help on roster, depending on how the new coach decides to utilize players. Daje Johnson, for instance, could be a slot receiver, as he was for the old staff, or a De'Anthony Thomas type running back getting 10 or so carries per game. Bergeron, while he's had some success as a single back, could be the top fullback prospect in the upcoming draft, a potentially versatile weapon, should he choose to embrace that sort of role. Even if not, Texas does have a solid fullback in Alex De La Torre for another couple of years.
Could Jalen Overstreet present an answer? Overstreet looked fantastic when holes were opened for him in the opener against New Mexico State early, but was a bit more hesitant late. Of the incoming freshmen, Donald Catalon would be the most ready. He's a lot like Gray in that his primary talents are his vision, feet and balance, rather than something more tangible, like weighing 220 pounds or running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. D'Onta Foreman has more of those measureables, with the 217-pound back running a 4.44 40 at Texas's summer camp, though he lacks Catalon's running back skills.
Either way, it will be incredibly important for the new staff to hit home runs in a 2015 class stacked with running backs. The Longhorns already nabbed a really good one in Jordan Stevenson of South Oak Cliff, though he's more of a 10-touch type of guy. Landing two of Sotonye Jamabo, Ronald Jones, Chris Warren and JaMycal Hasty would be an outstanding move to help add more youthful talent to the mix, and some of those guys would probably be able to step in immediately.
That would be key to building back the kind of running backs the Longhorns enjoyed in 2013.