July 21, 2010

Positional breakdown: Running backs

Although the Houston Cougars were likely not thrilled to learn of the impending suspension of last season's Conference USA Freshman of the Year Charles Sims, there truly aren't a lot of other positions at which they could afford to lose such a talent. Sims will sit out the 2010 season while he straightens out his grades and should be ready to go in 2011.

Luckily for the Cougars, running backs that have won Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors seem to be what they collect, as 2008 winner Bryce Beall should have no problem taking back over the bulk of the carries for the time being. Although the common misconception is that Sims who obviously had a breakout season last year was the player with the most success out of the backfield in 2009. The fact is that Beall, although battling some nagging injuries throughout the season pretty much mirrored Sims impressive campaign. Beall rushed for 670 yards and seven touchdowns (Sims went for 698 and nine) despite his setbacks last season.

Beall proved in his freshman year that he is perfectly capable in the role of feature back as he carried the ball 198 times for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also look for a number other players to contribute in situations to help lessen the burden of the season's grind on Beall.

The absence of Sims may very well have opened the door for freshman Xavier Brown to step in and get some carries this season. Brown who was the lone running back signee for the Cougars in the 2010 recruiting class was compared by head coach Kevin Sumlin as a mix between Beall and Sims, and at 6-foot, 200 pounds, he likely has the body to stand up to significant carries during the year if needed.

Also look for Justin Johnson to continue to help out in certain situations much like he did last season. Johnson proved last year that he has the talent to help out in certain situations from multiple spots on the field and will likely be seen from multiple sets in multiple positions.

Sophomore Chris Wilson will also contribute for the Cougars in situations much like he did last year. Wilson cemented his value last season by excelling with the ball in his hands and on special teams.

In addition to several other running backs that are on the roster, any one of the three freshman that were signed as part of the 2010 recruiting class as athletes could see some carries in the right situation.

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