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Thursday, May 15, 2014
States of strength: Texas RBs

By Damon Sayles

When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

Chris Warren
Chris Warren III plays the same position as his namesake, who had four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL.
No. 70 Soso Jamabo: At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, Jamabo is a smooth runner in a bruiser’s body. Jamabo uses his size and athleticism to cause problems for defenders. He also has used the traits to garner more than a dozen offers. Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, UCLA and Oregon are among the schools showing high interest in the nation’s No. 4 running back.

No. 155 Chris Warren III: Fully recovered from an ACL injury, Warren is expecting to play his senior year with a chip on his shoulder -- which is bad for opposing players. Warren already is a load at 6-2 and 235 pounds, and when he’s going at full speed, the nation’s No. 14 running back, the son of the former NFL back with the same name, is one of the best downhill runners around.

No. 208 Tristian Houston: At 5-10 and 203 pounds, Houston doesn’t waste much time getting to the hole or getting past it. Texas found something special in Houston, the nation’s 19th-ranked running back, and he committed to the Longhorns on April 14. Houston is a good back, but it’s his upside that really fascinates Charlie Strong & Co.

No. 220 Tyreik Gray: There’s “speed” and there’s “football speed.” Gray isn’t the fastest running back, but when he’s on the field, he has a nice second gear that epitomizes “football speed.” At 5-11 and 185 pounds, Gray, a top-20 running back, is a powerful runner who has offers from Baylor, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Cal and Houston.

No. 263 Rodney Anderson: Arguably one of the most important grabs of the Texas running backs, Anderson is the type of back who can serve a program in the backfield and as a wide receiver. Anderson decommitted from Texas A&M in April, and Oklahoma, LSU and Baylor are in the hunt as possible replacement spots. His speed, vision and agility will be greatly appreciated wherever he goes.

No. 274 Ja'Mycal Hasty: Baylor scored a gem in Hasty, a player who overcomes his lack of size (5-8, 185) with blazing speed, quickness, elusiveness and an overall hunger to improve daily. Hasty, who committed to the Bears on March 29, is a pure athlete. He vertical-jumped 39 inches last summer and has completed sub-4-second pro agility runs. In short, Hasty plays way larger than he is.

No. 277 Jay Bradford: A running back with legit sprinter’s speed, Bradford ended his recruiting process in August, verbally committing to Texas A&M. As fast as he is, Bradford has a knack for being a physical, downhill runner. Bradford could be a track guy at Texas A&M, as he competed in three events at the Texas state meet and earned a silver medal in the 100-meter dash.

No. 289 Patrick Carr -- Since his sophomore year, Carr has been a name to watch. He’s not the biggest back at 5-9 and 180 pounds, but defenders will tell you that he’s a slippery athlete to tackle and a tough athlete to catch in the open field. TCU, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Oregon State and Colorado are among the schools interested in having Carr suit up for them.

No. 296 Jordan Stevenson -- The Texas Longhorns love their speedy backs, and Stevenson fits that description perfectly. An athlete who has been clocked in the 40-yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds, Stevenson poses a problem to defenders with his shiftiness and explosiveness. Additionally, Stevenson is a lot stronger than assumed. He committed to the Longhorns in October 2013 -- before the Strong era started.

Other RBs to know:

Aca'Cedric Ware: Few running backs have seen an ascension in the recruiting process like Ware. Florida, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Ole Miss are among the schools to offer so far. Ware runs instinctively, and he usually makes the right decisions when he cuts. For someone who is 5-10 and 175 pounds, Ware runs very aggressively. His determination attracts college coaches.

Rawleigh Williams III: Williams is a good-looking back who seems to get even better when he runs with a chip on his shoulder. The 5-10, 203-pound running back comes off as a north-south runner -- until you watch him make lateral movements effectively. Williams’ game was recognized early by Ole Miss, and he verbally committed to the Rebels in April 2013.

Nick Ralston: Fresh off winning a state championship, Ralston is one of those backs who can flourish as a running back or a fullback. He’s strong and versatile at 6-foot and 225 pounds. Ralston committed to Arizona State on Feb. 1, but he has schools such as TCU and Texas Tech keeping a close eye on him through the summer. Ralston is as good catching the ball as he is running with it.

Devine Ozigbo: Physically, Ozigbo looks like a college running back. He’s a burly 5-11 and 230 pounds, but he has respectable speed as a power runner. Iowa, Wisconsin, Miami, Boise State and Colorado State are among the schools that have offered so far. Programs will be monitoring his progress throughout the summer, and he could have 20-plus offers before the start of his senior year.

Jess Anders: Anders was once dubbed as “the next Johnathan Gray,” as the two were teammates at Aledo High School before Gray went on to Texas. It’s tough to fill Gray’s shoes, but Anders has been impressive. He’s committed to UTSA, and he has another offer from Colorado State and growing interest from schools left and right.

Jatory Sparks-Brown: As a sophomore, Sparks-Brown played behind Dontre Wilson, who is now at Ohio State. It’s now Sparks-Brown’s turn to show himself worthy in recruiting. The 6-0, 195-pound running back has early offers from San Diego State, Toledo and Illinois State, and he’s expected to blow up during the summer.

Key recruiting battles: The battle for Jamabo tends to be an intriguing one. Rarely do we get to talk about a battle between Baylor and Oklahoma, but both programs are high on Jamabo, and both believe they are in the lead for him. For Warren, the battle might be more Big 12 versus SEC. Texas, Baylor, Auburn and Alabama all have offered, and Warren has interest in all four programs.

School that needs a 2015 RB: TCU is still looking for its first running back commitment, and there are several candidates to choose from. Carr has an offer from the Horned Frogs, and fast-rising players such as Ware and Taylor Martin are area stars who wouldn’t mind playing their college ball minutes from home.

2016 name to know: Kameron Martin still has two years left of high school football, and he already has more than 20 offers. Akron first offered Martin around this time last year, and his list has been growing ever since. Among the schools to offer are Florida State, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Ole Miss, as well as in-state schools Baylor, Texas Tech and Houston.