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Thursday, December 6, 2012
State of the position: Running back

By Brandon Chatmon

After grading the performance of the running game in 2012, it is the perfect time to take a closer look at the running backs on the roster and the commitment list as SoonerNation evaluates the future at the position for Oklahoma.

Here’s a look at one player who could be next in line to make a major impact, one player to keep an eye on, and one current commitment who could be the future.

Damien Williams
OU running back Damien Williams was named to the All-Big 12 second team this season.
Next in line: Alex Ross. The redshirting freshman has terrific speed and dynamic playmaking ability. He almost played his way out of a redshirt season this year and could make an impact as a redshirt freshman despite the return of Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch.

At 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, Ross brings a combination of size, speed and explosiveness that could combine with the three seniors to be to cause havoc for opposing defenses. If he’s ready to play, OU’s running backs will be one of the Big 12’s deepest groups.

Keep an eye on: Daniel Brooks. It’s easy to forget about Brooks, who has been recovering from a torn ACL suffered last spring. If he returns to his pre-injury form he could provide an explosive backfield threat similar to Finch. His versatility could be used in the slot, on quick sweep plays and screens if his quickness, speed and explosiveness return. If not, it could be another year before he makes an impact.

On the trail: Keith Ford. The Sooners running back commitment from Cypress (Texas) Ranch is one of the nation’s top running backs. He's a player ESPN.com recruiting analysts consider one of the most college-ready running backs in this class so it’s not crazy to think the highly regarded recruit could earn some snaps in 2013.

Summary: Running backs coach Cale Gundy has done a superb job amassing a stable of running backs with various strengths for different situations. Finch and Brooks provide quickness and explosiveness as change-of-pace style backs, while Williams and Clay bring versatility and dependability. And Ross and Ford could become the future at the position. Running back is arguably the strongest position on the entire roster.