Spring Position Outlook - Running back

We kicked off our Spring Position Outlook on Monday at a quarterback position with several questions surrounding it. Today we'll look at a position that's as sure a bet as any on the roster with two seniors returning and a junior ahead of schedule in his recovery from a gruesome leg injury suffered last season.


Running back

Who is gone?

No one

Aside from the 67 rushing yards Case McCoy picked up in 2013, Texas returns nearly all of the 2,786 rushing yards from last season.

Who is on campus?

Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Gray, Daje Johnson, Jalen Overstreet

What's that mean?

It means the Longhorns return one of the best, most experienced, groups of running backs in the country. Brown is the team's leading rusher from a season ago when he scampered for 904 yards and 1,099 all-purpose yards. He's 17th on the Texas career rushing yards list (1,840).

Bergeron had his worst season from a numbers standpoint in 2013 – he rushed 73 times for 362 yards and four touchdowns – but only surpassed 10 carries in a game one time. In that game, against Texas Tech, he rushed 17 times for 102 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers should go up this season given how much running backs coach Tommie Robinson likes to rotate different backs.

The key to this group is going to be the health of Gray and how soon he can return to full strength. Had he not suffered a season-ending torn Achilles injury against West Virginia last season, Gray would have likely surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. He had 780 at the time of his injury, which was good enough for 10th in the conference despite missing nearly five games.

A source close to Gray told LonghornDigest that they believe Gray will return in time for Texas' second game, against BYU. He's been seen at spring practice moving around rather freely and appears to be ahead of schedule.

Catalon, one could argue, is the most explosive playmaker on the roster. Key for him is staying on the field. He was ruled academically ineligible for the Alamo Bowl, which isn't going to fly with Charlie Strong.

Overstreet is a wild card of sorts given his upside at a position he doesn't have a ton of game experience in. The previous coaching staff switched him from quarterback to running back last season and it appeared to be the right move as he rushed 20 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

Robinson should be able to get the best out of him and, if handled right, and put into the right situations, could be a valuable commodity for the stable of backs he has to work with.

Who isn't on campus yet?

Duke Catalon, D'Onta Foreman and Kevin Shorter

Catalon, a four-star recruit, was the No. 27 RB in the country last season. He has a lot of Johnson to him, which could allow him to see the field as a back out of the backfield if he has a good fall. It's simply going to be too tough to take carries away from the RBs already on campus.

Here's some game film on Catalon:

Foreman comes to Texas along with his brother, receiver Armanti Foreman. He has the chance to be a steal for the Longhorns but it won't show this season. There just isn't enough room for him.

Shorter unfortunately suffered a potential career-ending spinal injury in October that put his career in jeopardy. It's unlikely that he'll ever see the field, but you just never know.

Season prediction

Gray will return no later than the UCLA game on Sept. 13 giving the Longhorns the top trio of RBs in the country. His return that early will, however, barely keep Brown from reaching the 1,000-yard mark. Brown's numbers will slightly dip while Bergeron will exceed his totals from last season and get closer to those that he put up as a sophomore (127 carries for 567 yards and 16 touchdowns). Gray will show that he's the most talented back of the group as the season hits the midway point and will surpass his totals from last season. Overstreet's roll will increase, but barely, while Catalon finds himself in the mix somehow, someway.

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