NORMAN — The meeting room for Oklahoma’s running backs doesn’t have many empty chairs. Depending on whether do-every-thing fullback Trey Millard is part of the discussion, there could be as many as seven players vying for a carry.
On paper, Oklahoma appears to have its deepest running group in coach Bob Stoops’ tenure. Senior running backs Damien Williams, Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Trey Millard combined for 18 rushing touchdowns and 1,761 yards last season.
Redshirt freshmen Alex Ross and David Smith and true freshman Keith Ford all seem to be pushing for playing time, making for a very crowded backfield.
“It’s a good group. The deepest, I don’t know about that,” Stoops said.
The tepid response to the depth question came from recent history. It was just two years ago OU worked through the preseason with what looked like a very deep backfield.
By the second half of season, it was a much different situation, and a perfect example of how fleeting running back depth can be.
OU started preseason camp with Clay, Finch, Millard, walk-on-turned starter Dominique Whaley and highly touted recruits Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller and Brandon Williams.
By the middle of the season, Whaley suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Clay was dealing with an assortment of ailments. Miller and Calhoun both transferred before the season even began when Williams moved ahead of them on the depth chart. Then Williams transferred to Texas A&M at the end of the regular season to be closer to home.
The cupboard went from stocked to bare in less than a season.
“I brought up the situation a few years ago when we had four or five guys and a couple decided to quit because a young guy was moved up in front of them because of how he played and then he ended up transferring,” Stoops said. “You never know where it will all go.”