A familiar face from last season is no longer on this list. The Longhorns' leader in all-purpose yardage, Ramonce Taylor, is moving on and senior running back Selvin Young laid out the bottom line: "It means more carries for the rest of the backs."
Young will likely step onto the field as the starter for the Texas Longhorns. Two of the things that Mack Brown values most in a running back are experience and ball security and, despite some early season troubles, it seems like Young is the only Texas back who didn't fumble the ball in the Rose Bowl. The Texas coaches are hoping that his performance in the National Championship Game is an indication that 2006 will be the year he finally breaks out after breaking his ankle at Arkansas his sophomore season. Expect Young to rush for much more than his 487 yards and eight TDs last season.
Of course, Young may be the starter, but the most carries will almost certainly go to sensational sophomore Jamaal Charles. As a true freshman, Charles rushed for 878 yards on 119 carries, scored 11 TDs and is on the preseason watch-list for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the nation's top player. Charles could have rushed for even more if he hadn't tweaked his ankle against OU last season. With both Charles and Young now 100%, combined with the inexperience at quarterback, it's very possible that Texas could have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in 2006.
The player who may be affected most by Taylor's decision to transfer is freshman running back Vondrell McGee. He's a burner out of Longview and may replace Taylor in the situational role vacated by the departed Texas runner. McGee has added 12 pounds of lean muscle to his 5-10 frame and now tips at scales at 200. He has also shaved nearly-tenths of a second off his 40 this year and currently runs a 4.35. (IT's Bill Frisbie described McGee as a "a fire hydrant shot out of a cannon".)
"(Coaches) haven't told me if I'm going to redshirt or if I'm going to play this year," McGee said. "They just told me to come down with the attitude that I'm going to play and then see what happens."
The other freshman in Brown's 2006 recruiting class is Antwan Cobb. Cobb, who ran for 1,670 yards and 24 TDs on 191 carries (8.7 ypc) his senior year at Pflugerville, is currently listed as a RB/LB and may end up on the defensive side of the ball. Regardless, Cobb will likely receive a redshirt because of the depth at running back.
Rounding out the halfbacks is Henry Melton. According to reports from the Texas camp, Melton is slimmer, stronger and faster and has been pounding the defense in practice. He struggled a bit during the Spring Game, trying to dance outside when he lined up in the shotgun, but that should not be a concern, considering that he will not have the job of being a zone-read shotgun back. Melton's job will continue to be sticking his nose in there and getting a yard or two when necessary, something he's proven he can do on a consistent basis. Some have predicted that freshman linebacker Sergio Kindle will get a look at running back this season, but with the development of Melton at power-back, expect Kindle to remain on the defensive side of the ball full time.
The speedy Ogbonnaya, who was originally recruited as a wide receiver, now finds himself as the starting fullback for the Longhorns. The fullback is not an every-down position for Texas, as the Horns will primarily be lining up in a three-wide, one-tight, one-back offense, but when the Horns do pull out the I-Form, expect Ogbonnaya to line-up in the backfield. He's added 20 pounds to his frame since coming to Texas and still possesses the hands of a wideout. Backing him up at fullback with be senior Marcus Myers. Myers is a big, bruising fullback (6'3", 250 pounds) and will probably see playing time as a blocking back in goal line situations. A goal-line backfield of Myers and Melton is a scary proposition for opposing Ds.
Even with the loss of Taylor, running back is one of the strongest positions on the team and will be responsible for carrying much of the offensive load, considering that the position with the most question marks is quarterback.
Inside Texas Position Preview Schedule:
Monday, July 24: QBs
Tuesday, July 25: RBs
Wednesday, July 26: WRs
Thursday, July 27: TEs
Friday: July 28: OLs
Monday, July 31: DEs
Tuesday, Aug. 1: DTs
Wednesday, Aug. 2: LBs
Thursday, Aug. 3: DBs
Friday, Aug. 4: Special Teams