When ESPN’s David Ubben published his Big 12 position ranking for running backs, Texas Tech was placed at the bottom.
“The Red Raiders have a solid starter in Kenny Williams, but they’re simply not as deep as the rest of the Big 12,” Ubben wrote on July 12. “Quinton White and DeAndre Washington should get some run this season.”
That puts Tech at three-deep at running back.
Now add Sadale Foster and Tyler Middleton.
Three plus two plenty of depth.
“We have a great group,” Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “There’s four or five guys that we think can all start at a lot of places in this country. So we’ve got to find ways to get them the ball. That’s a big part of our offense. Last year we led the league in rushing at Texas A&M. We’re going to play to our strengths. If we can run the ball every play, we’ll do it.”
Yes, Kingsbury mentioned the unmentionable other school, but he envisions the running game being a key component of the offense.
Currently, the depth chart lists junior Kenny Williams as the starter, followed by sophomore DeAndre Washington.
Last season, Williams recorded 824 total yards on 143 carries and had five touchdowns.
He averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 63.4 rushing yards per game.
Washington, coming off a season-ending knee injury in November 2011, redshirted last season.
“I think it was definitely a learning experience, a growing experience,” Washington said. “It helped me out to mature as a football player and as a man. I’m glad I did it. It was emotional when they first told me they were going to do it. I talked with my family and I think it was the best decision. I think it helped me out in the long run.”
In 2011, Washington recorded the most rushing yards by a Texas Tech freshman since Taurean Henderson in 2002.
“Knowing that DeAndre can come and take my position at any time has pushed me even more,” Williams said.
The competition for playing time is not limited only to those two.
All five backs are competing throughout the fall to get into the rotation.
“It’s going to be some real serious competition,” Foster said. “Competition is good though because it’s going to make us better.”
While Foster is in the mix in the backfield, he has other responsibilities on the offense.
Coaches have him listed No. 2 on the depth chart at “H” inside receiver behind sophomore Jakeem Grant.
“I knew when the role was introduced to me, I knew that I would have to do a lot of things to help our team,” Foster said. “When coach talked to me about it, I just meet with a lot of my coaches. I watch a lot of film and just try to do whatever it takes to get better and just try to train my mind to play multiple positions and know not to make that mistake that I made. It’s kind of tough, but I’m used to it and I’m ready to take it on.”
With Foster getting some time at different positions, that will open up the door for freshman Quinton White and junior college transfer Tyler Middleton.
White turned heads in the spring with his quick spin moves and his lateral movement on the gridiron.
“Quinton, he’s just so dynamic,” Washington said. “He does so many things. We’re going to use him this year in so many packages because he’s such a utility player for us.”
Middleton, standing 6 feet tall and weighing in at 190 pounds adds another dynamic to the backfield.
“Middleton brings a lot of speed to the offense,” Washington said. “You know, 10.4 in the 100-meters, something we don’t have in the backfield.”
Williams, Washington, Foster, White and Middleton.
That puts five different weapons in the backfield for the Red Raiders.
“I don’t know why we were put so low as far as depth,” Foster said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can go and do it in different aspects of the game as far as speed guys, power guys and guys that catch on the backfield and do things to help us be effective.
So what was the reaction from the running back corps about being last in the ranking?
“When we saw that, we sat down as a running back group and talked about it,” Washington said. “We used it as motivation.”
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