Here we go! Time to work our way through the summer we’re back to our Big 12 position rankings. With these posts we give our opinions on each of the offensive and defensive position groups and rank them from first to worst. We only defend our top three and bottom two in the rankings and while we’re sure to say something that’s out of this world crazy it’s also a great way to get football conversations going. So, enjoy and make sure to sound off with your opinions in the comments section below.
This time around the Heartland Sports writers give their take on the running backs across the conference, ranking them from first to worst. Then they are asked to defend their top three and bottom two rankings.
The consensus rankings below come from a points system. A first place selection is worth 10 points, second place is 9 points, and they continue in descending order with tenth place equaling 1 point.
Heartland Sports Consensus Running Backs
|2. Kansas State||26|
|6. Texas Tech||15|
|7. Oklahoma State||13|
|8. West Virginia||11|
|9. Iowa State||5|
Unanimity – We finally agreed upon something! We all three had Texas at the top spot in the conference, making the Longhorns the only school that we agreed on for this position group, and one of the very few that we’ve agreed upon in this entire series.
Almost Agreed – We came really close to Kansas State being unanimous at #2 and TCU was almost #4 instead of #3. We were also pretty close to unanimously agreeing on where Oklahoma should be in the middle of the pack.
All Over The Place – I’m not saying that it’s a homer pick or anything but one of us is way higher on Oklahoma State than the other two are. We were also a little scattered on Kansas but we at least agreed that the Jayhawks belonged in the top half of the conference.
Individual Thoughts And Rankings
1. Texas | The Longhorns are the clear choice for number one here with the return of Bijan Robinson who made first team All-Big 12 last year. He ranked 8th in the nation in yards per game, and recorded 16 total touchdowns. Robinson will be the work horse for the Texas offense once again. If he can stay healthy, he might just have a shot at winning the Heisman.
2. Kansas State | Kansas State was led by Deuce Vaughn last season as just a sophomore. He rushed for 1,400 yards and tallied up 18 rushing touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if they decrease his work load in 2022 as he carried the ball 235 times last season. Regardless, Deuce Vaughn will make this Kansas State offense difficult for any team to game plan against.
3. Kansas | Now I fully expect to catch some flak for having Kansas in my top three. But, whether you like it or not Devin Neal was one of the best running backs in the Big 12 a year ago. He played a major role in beating Texas last season, and he gave Oklahoma all the trouble they could handle as well. If the Jayhawks can figure things out on the offensive line this kid could have a big year.
6. Texas Tech
7. West Virginia
8. Iowa State
9. Oklahoma State | The returning leading rusher for Oklahoma State is quarterback Spencer Sanders. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it’s not great because the next leading returning rusher is Dominic Richardson. Richardson served as a great backup with 373 yards last season, but will be forced into a larger role in 2022.
10. Baylor – Baylor lost both of their leading rushers to the NFL. It looks like Taye McWilliams will lead the way this season for the Bears. Last year he was the teams 4th leading rusher with 181 yards. I’m sure with a higher volume of rushes his numbers will increase. But, Baylor has to be last because there’s just not a lot of talent returning.
1. Texas | Bijan Robinson might be the best rusher in the conference, but his backup is what pushes the Longhorns to the top of the rankings. Roschon Johnson is a solid number two, and this duo is going to rack up a ton of yardage by the end of the season.
2. Kansas State | Deuce Vaughn is probably my favorite rusher in the league, and it’s because of what he’s capable of doing in spite of his size. He’s a flash on the field, and his stature reminds me of Darren Sproles. He’s going to make a lot of highlights.
3. Oklahoma State | The Cowboys were pleasantly surprised with what Jalen Warren was capable of doing a season ago, but now that he’s gone, Dominic Richardson will be the primary ball carrier. As a sophomore playing behind Warren, Richardson played in every game, and despite getting just 79 carries, he did have a monster game against TCU for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns.
7. Texas Tech
8. West Virginia
9. Baylor | Reigning Big 12 Champs doesn’t mean a whole lot when you lose a lot of your talent. The Bears lost their top two rushers that accounted for 80% of the rushing output from 2021, and now they look to Taye McWilliams, who played in just 3 games last season.
10. Iowa State | Breece Hall was one of the best running backs the Big 12 has had in years, and now that he’s gone, the Cyclones are back to square one in the running game. Their backfield will likely move up these rankings by midseason, but there are a lot of questions, so they start at the bottom.
1. Texas | Led by Bijan Robinson, the Longhorns return three running backs who ranked in the the Top 20 among Big 12 rushers last season. Robinson is the conference’s leading returning rusher and should be the centerpiece for the offensive assault.
2. TCU | It’s proven depth that places the Horned Frogs ahead of the the Wildcats for me. Kendre Miller was ninth in the conference in rushing last season and Emari Demercado could be on tap to be one of the Big 12’s players to have a breakout season. He was fourteenth in the conference in rushing in 2021.
3. Kansas State | It’s no secret what Deuce Vaugh is capable of. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry and joins Bejan Robinson, from Texas, as the only returning running back to have averaged over 100 rushing yards per game last season.
5. Texas Tech
7. West Virginia
8. Oklahoma State
9. Baylor | The Bears produced the Big 12’s top rushing attack in 2021 but Abram Smith (3rd) and Trestan Ebner (10th) are both gone after ranking as Top 10 running backs in the conference.
10. Iowa State | The Cyclones are pretty much in the same position as the Bears are. Breece Hall was the top rusher in the conference a year ago and now Iowa State doesn’t have a back on the roster who placed within the Top 20 among Big 12 running backs in 2021.
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