Leach thinking on RBs ahead of the times

RUNNING BACKS in this year's NFL Draft waited, and then they waited some more. Meanwhile, Mike Leach for years has utilized his backs more in the receiving game than have others, with the goal for them to lead the way in all-purpose yardage. And the NFL, if the last couple years are any indication, looks to be following Leach's lead.

Consider that four of the top five rushing running backs in the NFL last year set personal highs in receiving yards in 2013.

And of the 13 RBs who rushed over 1,000 yards in 2013, that signified the fewest 1,000-year rushers since 2002, as far as ESPN's records go back.

Last year was the first time since 1963 a running back didn't get picked in the first round. This year continued the trend -- and made it the deepest a draft had ever gone in the modern era before a running backs was taken with the 54th pick.

Running backs tend to have short careers. And there are lots of running backs to choose from later in the draft, NFL teams are finding.

Running backs are still important, but the focus of college and NFL teams is no longer on three yards and a cloud of dust.

Theron West this spring at Washington State showed an affinity for taking a short pass and then getting upfield quickly. So did Jamal Morrow. Marcus Mason, who became one of Connor Halliday's favorite targets last year, along with Teondray Caldwell and Gerard Wicks, will all get their opportunities in fall camp to show what they can do in WSU's passing attack.

The next trend, one that could see running backs improve their stature in the draft, might be for a guy coming out of the backfield who makes some serious hay… but as a receiver.

And that kind of running back could come from Washington State just as easily as anywhere else.

No. of receptions by leading Texas Tech running back under Leach
2000 – 52
2001 – 92
2002 - 98
2003 – 69
2004 - 60
2005 - 67
2006 - 75
2007 - 34
2008 - 43
2009 - 57

No. of rushing attempts by Tech under Leach:
305 in 2000
261 in 2001
385 in 2002
308 in 2003
293 in 2004
308 in 2005
220 in 2006
246 in 2007
317 in 2008
319 in 2009

No. of receptions by leading WSU running back under Leach
14 in 2012
52 in 2013

No. of rushing attempts by WSU under Leach:
252 in 2012
243 in 2013

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