Run it up
Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill leads the way for the Cowboys rushing attack in 2017, but he’ll have four backs behind him vying for carriers as his backup.
The depth chart released by Oklahoma State on Friday tells you one specific detail about its running backs that you probably already knew.
Justice Hill, coming off the school’s first 1,000-yard rushing season by a freshman, is the starter.
After that, it’s all up for interpretation.
The four freshmen reserves — J.D. King, Ja’Ron Wilson, LD Bell and Chuba Hubbard — are all listed as potential backups, and coach Mike Gundy hasn’t said exactly how he plans to use them come game day on Thursday against Tulsa.
“Justice Hill will get a majority of the work and if we feel like he needs a break, we’ll run another guy in,” Gundy said. “There could be times where we start a series with a younger guy, but my guess is it will be just when we think he needs a break.”
Gundy said Hubbard, a true freshman from Alberta, Canada, isn’t likely to redshirt, despite the depth at the position. Hubbard has spent the last week working among backups, rather than with the scout team.
“The guys who are up there full-time, there’s a chance they could be in the game,” Gundy said.
“We have kept guys up there before, and practiced them all year, and held them back. So I don’t know what they’re gonna do with him right now.
“He gets better and better every day. And we like where he’s at. He’s got a long ways to go, but when he breaks through and gets in the open, it’s over. Gone. That’s what I like about it.”
Tulsa’s QB battle no hindrance on OSU’s preparation
Chad President and Luke Skipper continue to fight for the starting quarterback job at Tulsa, and with the game a few days away, that could seem like a problem for Oklahoma State.
But because neither quarterback has played significant minutes — and Skipper not at all — the Cowboys won’t know what to expect from either of them, even if one was named the starter.
“The guys they’re going to use, there isn’t much video of that,” Gundy said. “You would prefer to have that, but in Tulsa’s case, it doesn’t affect much.”
So OSU can only study schemes and tendencies of coach Philip Montgomery, rather than worrying about the specific attributes of the quarterbacks.
Gundy also warned against expecting a big dropoff from Tulsa because of the talented players from last year’s team that graduated.
“With (Montgomery) calling plays and running offenses at other schools where he was at, there would be a group of guys leave and people thought, ‘OK. Now they’ll settle down,’” Gundy said. “But that wasn’t the case, and they went out and got 5,000 yards with some new guys.”
One notable jersey number change that Oklahoma State fans will notice right away this season is that of Hill at running back.
While his breakout season came in a No. 27 jersey last year, Hill is now wearing No. 5.
The No. 27 jersey was simply assigned to him when he arrived as a true freshman last year.
“I was like, ‘I’m not gonna change my number. I’m a freshman. I don’t even know if I’m gonna play or not,’” he said. “I just decided to change it this year.”
Hill wore No. 21 in high school at Tulsa Washington, and that would’ve been his first choice. But that number isn’t available at OSU, having been retired in honor of Barry Sanders.
Oklahoma State sophomore Justice Hill, who wore No. 27 last year but will wear No. 5 this season, returns as the Cowboys’ starting running back. The depth chart behind him, however, includes several promising backups.