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Stephens' return brightens Tech running back picture

Posted: August 2, 2012 - 6:09pm  |  Updated: August 3, 2012 - 12:38am
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Texas Tech's Eric Stephens should be back to full power by the start of conference play for the Red Raiders.  Zach Long
Zach Long
Texas Tech's Eric Stephens should be back to full power by the start of conference play for the Red Raiders.
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Tommy Tuberville says he’ll be able to tell by this time next week how he feels about Texas Tech’s situation at running back. Just knowing Eric Stephens will be practicing from Day One makes the Red Raiders’ head coach more optimistic than perhaps any time in the last several months.

“It’s a lot better (outlook),” Tuberville said Wednesday. “If Eric’s a hundred percent, he’ll get a thousand yards.”

Stephens, who had four 100-yard performances and eight touchdowns in his first five games last year, underwent surgery the week of Thanksgiving for the season-ending knee injury he suffered against Texas A&M. He’ll join the Red Raiders, 81/2 months later, when preseason practice starts Monday.

So will DeAndre Washington, who is also coming off surgery after he suffered a torn ACL in the next-to-last game of 2011.

“Everything I hear from the training staff has been positive,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said last week. “They won’t have any contact, but they’ll practice and we’ll watch the reps daily.”

Washington, who rushed for 366 yards last year, underwent knee surgery about a month after Stephens. He’s doing well in rehab but not as far along, Brown said.

With the uncertainty, sophomore running back Kenny Williams (5-foot-9, 219 pounds) and junior transfer SaDale Foster (5-7, 187) will be prominent. Freshman signee Quinton White (5-7, 197) will be pushed to become a factor in a hurry, too.

“I’m going to go in with the mindset that Kenny and SaDale and Quinton White, they’ve got to get ready to go,” Brown said. “Those other two guys (Stephens and Washington) are going to be bonuses, but I really feel like Eric will be a factor for us this year. He’s worked really hard.”

Washington, the sophomore scatback from Sugar Land Marshall, was a true freshman in 2011. Using his redshirt this year is “a definite possibility,” Brown said, but it’ll depend on how quickly White develops. Tuberville said if Washington works his way back into the top three on the depth chart, he’ll play.

Even if Stephens and Washington encounter setbacks, the Red Raiders have a potential every-down back around whom to build a running game. Williams finished his true freshman season with some impressive work against Missouri and Baylor.

Williams showed the combination of power and quick feet between the tackles that made him a top signee in 2011.

“He’s got the ability to be a great player,” Tuberville said.

Asked if Williams reminded him of any running back he’d coached in past stops, Tuberville suggested Ronnie Brown, the 6-0, 230-pound former Auburn standout who played a key role on the Tigers’ 13-0 team in 2005.

“He’s a lot like Ronnie Brown was, I guess,” Tuberville said. “Ronnie was kind of a bigger, thicker kid.”

To comment on this story:

don.williams@lubbockonline.com • 766-8734

george.watson@lubbockonline.com • 766-2166

Depth chart

Texas Tech’s depth chart at
running back going into
preseason practice:

FB: Omar Ontiveros, Jr.

RB: Eric Stephens, Sr.; Kenny Williams, So.; DeAndre Washington, So.; SaDale Foster, Jr.; Quinton White, Fr.

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3
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Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!

This is something to get excited about! Guns Up!

2
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Excellent

Needed some good news

3
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@coyote

Thanks for keeping it positive

3
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quinton white

5'7 197l[filtered word]? He was like 180lbs when they recruited him. The offseason conditioning yielding some great results

2
2

Never negative

About our players man. I love the kids. That one is a hell of a back. Hope he can make a full recovery. He could be a difference maker. Ive never not been a fan of the kids and I would like to be a fan of the coach. That has to be earned through results at TTU .

2
1

Hope the Stephens Kid Gets Back

I came to agree that injuries should not be discussed. It was a novel approach.

But most coaches discuss injuries, and Tuberville is one.

If the Stephens kid can get back to 90%, I think he should be played. Otherwise, he should sit a year--and without looking I don't know if he has a redshirt left.

When he went down, he was the most "used" kid since Bam.

2
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quinton white

5'7 197l[filtered word]? He was like 180lbs when they recruited him. The offseason conditioning yielding some great results

2
0

"...he was the most "used" kid since Bam."

Hmmm, maybe, but the name Ricky Williams should come to mind instead.

Btw "kid"? I think it's hilarious when people call these young men kids. My son is not much older than Stephens and I know he wouldn't appreciate being called a kid now.

4
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Great!

Glad Stephens is making progress. I personally know coming back for issues with knee problems is very tough. I would be ok with red shirting this year, but if he is good to go, then he is good to go!

Good job on the hard work young man!

1
3

@RedRaider76

Ok, Hance, I know that's you. Only a condescending arrogant elitist gives instructions to someone making an unbeat remark.

When are you going to come out in public?

We all want to ask you some questions.

0
2

What's happened

to our two players that had the credit card problems? Has all charges been dropped and are they back on the team?

2
0

Tubs said during media days

that amaro & williams situation was about resolved

1
0

@facts

If you knew anything about Tech football, then you would know that Stephens has a red shirt year left. Pay attention.

0
0

He's back but he won't be back...

Take the red-shirt year- it takes longer (emotionally) to come back from a major knee injury than physically. Good luck Eric!

1
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@Nashville Raider

Wow. You folks jump on that Facts pretty hard. I believe he stated in plain English "he would have to look."

Mercy Sakes.

0
2

@Civilized

Thanks for the help. But there are folks here who honestly feel that the destruction of the program as perpetrated by leadership was in the best interest of all.

Anyway, thanks.

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