When you start to look at the Big 12 Conference heading into 2010, perhaps no position on offense is deeper or more talented than running back. Nearly every one of the top backs from 2009 in the Big 12 will be back this fall. Leading the way in the conference will be Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas, but Nebraska's Roy Helu is another back that put up impressive numbers. Here is HI.com's complete ranking list of the running backs across the league.
Perhaps no player was a bigger surprise at running back in the Big 12 Conference a year ago than Kansas State's Daniel Thomas. As junior Thomas led the Big 12 with 1,247 rushing yards en route to being named the league's offensive newcomer of the year and first-team all conference. Thomas's ability to consistently give KSU head coach Bill Snyder 20-plus carries per game nearly helped the Wildcats capture the Big 12 North title. One could also argue that Thomas gave Nebraska's touted defense their biggest challenge of the year on the ground in Kansas State's 17-3 loss to the Huskers in Lincoln. Thomas rushed for 99 yards against NU, most of which came in the first half.
2. Christine Michael, Texas A&M, 5-11, 206, So.
Texas A&M running back Christine Michael was named the Big 12 freshman of the year after putting up 767 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009. Most experts expect the former five star recruit to breakout even more in his sophomore campaign. The Aggie offense is already loaded with Jerrod Johnson leading the way at quarterback. Michael should be poised for a 1,000 yard season in only his second year and contend for All Big 12 honors.
3. Roy Helu, Nebraska, 6-0, 220, Sr.
The biggest question with Nebraska running back Roy Helu right now is if he'll be the featured back in the Husker backfield in 2010. Right now sophomore Rex Burkhead and Helu are expected to split carries equally in 2010. As a junior, Helu had 1,193 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns to lead the NU offense. If Helu wouldn't have dinged up his shoulder, he easily could've surpassed the 1,500 yard mark, however durability continues to be what has held him back the last two seasons. In both 2008 and 2009 a series of minor injuries have kept Helu from becoming having the type of seasons he was capable of having.
4. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma, 6-1, 214, Sr.
When Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray is healthily, there aren't very many better backs in the league. Murray has rushed for 2,471 yards to go along with 977 yard receiving and 37 touchdowns over the last three seasons. However, durability continues to be an issue with Murray. In 2009 he started just five games and never had the breakout season most peopled projected. At one time Murray was considered a shoe in to declare early for the NFL draft, but the questions surrounding his durability kept him back for his fifth season at OU.
5. Alexander Robinson, Iowa State, 5-9, 186, Sr.
There were a lot of different backs worthy for the fifth and final spot, but perhaps no player is more valuable to their offense than Iowa State's Alexander Robinson. As junior Robinson finished with 1,195 yards rushing, despite the fact he battled a groin injury for most of the season. Robinson helped lead the Cyclones to a bowl game victory over Minnesota and was named MVP of the Insight.com Bowl with 137 yards rushing on 22 carries. Most of what ISU wants to do on offense will continue to go through Robinson in 2010.