The RB question: One of many this season


We all know the questions about this year's Kansas Football team.  The defense is where most of them come up, as the offense returns a lot of players.  Offensive line is another one that will undoubtedly require a lot of attention in the early stages of the season.  But the running back situation for Kansas is one that will be very interestin

Jake Sharp: 

Jake is the number 1 guy and everyone knows it.  A senior from Salina, KS, Sharp has been a tough runner for the Hawks for 2 seasons now.  In 2007 he was the lightning that complimented the thunder of Brandon McAnderson.  That season, he carried the ball 111 times for 556 yards and 5 TDs, which comes to a 5 YPC average.  McAnderson rushed for over 1000 yards and Sharp was just icing on the cake in the running game.  Going into 2008, there were great expectations for Sharp, but the question loomed, could Sharp carry the load by himself?

In 2008, the Jayhawk running game started out very slow.  In non-conference play, Sharp never made it into double-digit carries.  Against 3 patsies and a tough S. Florida game, he rushed a combined 26 times for a meager 86 yards.  Kansas fans were really questioning what Sharp was doing, or not doing, to only get 26 carries in 4 games.

Then KU fans finally got what they wanted from Sharp, in a frantic comeback victory on the road in Ames, Sharp got back on track with 79 yards rushing and 103 receiving yards and a touchdown with each.  He followed that up with two, 100+ yards games in the next 3, and then against rival K-State, rushed for 181 yards on just 21 carries. 

The final 4 games however, Sharp was average in a couple games and not so good in a couple.  The final line on Sharp's season: 186 carries, 860 yards and 12 TDs.  That's a 4.6 YPC average.  Sharp had a horrendous start, a great middle, and an average end to his season.  I think by now we all realize that Jake Sharp should get anywhere from 140 - 190 carries (a debatable number) this next season, but who will take on the other 100+ carries?

Sophomore Rell Lewis, 5-10, 201 lbs.

Rell has yet to carry the ball at Kansas but has been in the discussion as someone who could compliment Sharp this season.  Lewis saw the most carries in the spring game, 12 times for 56 yards for the blue team and 2 for 8 for the white.

Lewis is reported to have good speed but you can tell he is pretty small.  As running backs go, many are small, though.  At this point, more on Lewis is welcomed, as we know little about him.

Freshman Toben Opurum, 6-2, 229 lbs.

Toben was a 4 star FB according to rivals out of Plano TX.  He is a very highly antiicipated recruit because of his high rivals ranking.  At his high school, he's played in a spread style offense similar to the Jayhawks.  As a senior, he rushed for 873 yards for a 8.2 YPC average and 8 TDs.and caught 31 balls for 228 yards.  That was down from his junior season when he caught 27 balls for 574 yards and 6 TDs.  Teams obviously started keying on him coming out of the backfield.  I think the thing that could give Opurum the advantage is his ability to catch passes and make things happen in the open field. 

Freshman Deshaun Sands, 5-9, 175 lbs.

There are a few different reasons to be excited about Sands.  He's the son of former KU running back Tony Sands, he played his high school ball in Florida, and he graduated high school in December, allowing him to play in the spring game and have an advantage over all incoming freshman.  In my opinion, Sands is the wildcard of the group because of his size, but he definitely has a lot of speed.  I didn't have time to look up his senior numbers as they aren't on The Slant, but as a junior he rushed for 1,486 yards and 13 TDs.  Deshaun is definitely someone to be excited about for the future.

With Jocques Crawford no longer in the mix, RB depth is once again an issue.  Who will redshirt, who will get the most carries with Sharp?  Are there any other candidates to fill in some depth at RB?  How many carries should Jake Sharp get?  Many questions arise, what are yours and who do you see being the compliment to Jake Sharp?

Note: Denver has pointed out that Crawford is still in Lawrence and it's possible could still play on the team.

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