Kennedy Brooks or Eric Gray? That’s the biggest question facing Oklahoma’s running back room two weeks before the season starts. That’s the difference a year can make! When the 2020 season was approaching, Kennedy Brooks was sitting out, due to concerns over the covid pandemic, and Rhamondre Stevenson was facing a suspension. That left Marcus Major, TJ Pledger, and true freshman Seth McGowan as the top options. All three were talented. All three were young. All three were inexperienced!
Fast forward to August of 2021 and Major is the only member of that trio who is still with the program but the Sooners are still much better off than where they were a year ago. Brooks is back with the team, and reportedly in great shape, and a pair of transfers from S.E.C. country add to the depth of quality and experience in DeMarco Murray’s running back room.
“Yeah, you know, obviously our top two are our top two, and Tre’s (Bradford) came in and gave us some definitely a lot of good speed and things like that,” Murray said on Friday. “He’s really good with the ball in his hands. He’s still learning the offense. Like I said, we’re kind of in the middle of camp, so we want to give guys as many reps as they can and kind of compete. At the end of the day, our room is extremely competitive, so it’s kind of nothing set in stone, I don’t think, anywhere on our depth chart. So, we’ll continue to go at that route.”
That “top two” Murray is talking about is Brooks and Gray. They’ll break camp as the clear leaders of the running back room but don’t expect a significant drop off to Major or Bradford. Brooks is averaging 7.5 yards per rush after his first two seasons at Oklahoma, with 2,067 career yards and 18 touchdowns. That said, he’s being pushed by Eric Gray to the point to where the Tennessee transfer is widely expected to be the first back to take the field when the Sooners play at Tulane to start the season.
Kennedy Brooks career rushing stats
Gray starred in the spring game. He possesses the same type of running skill as Brooks but could end up being more versatile when it comes to being used in the passing game. At Tennessee he was a PFF College All-Freshman Team honorable mention selection in 2019 after playing in 13 games and leading the Vols with four rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He followed that up in 2020 with six touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving), again a team best, while finishing ranked sixth in SEC in rushing yards per game (85.8) and yards from scrimmage per game (114.0). Both his talent and potential were fully on display during the Red/White game.
Oklahoma’s 2021 Running Backs
|0||Eric Gray||5-9||206||Jr.||Memphis, Tenn. / Lausanne Collegiate School|
|2||Tre Bradford||5-11||211||So.||Dallas, Texas / Lancaster HS|
|23||Todd Hudson||5-7||180||R-So.||League City, Texas / Clear Springs HS|
|24||Marcus Major||5-11||222||R-So.||Oklahoma City, Okla. / Millwood HS|
|25||Jaden Knowles||5-7||195||R-Jr.||Kennedale, Texas / Kennedale HS|
|26||Kennedy Brooks||5-11||215||R-Jr.||Mansfield, Texas / Mansfield HS|
Marcus Major showed the type of potential in the Cotton Bowl that made him the #3 prospect from the state of Oklahoma as a senior in high school. His 110 yards, on just 9 carries, only further stoked the flames of fan expectations that the native son will be a star for the Sooners.
LSU transfer Tre Bradford may be a year away from being a regular in Lincoln Riley’s offense but don’t be surprised if you see the sophomore on special teams in the return game.