Top Returning Big 12 Running Backs For 2017

    Texas’ D’Onta Foreman has foregone his final year of eligibility. Who’s ready to step forward and become the Big 12’s top returning running back of 2017?

    March 8, 2017

    Texas’ D’Onta Foreman has foregone his final year of eligibility. Who’s ready to step forward and become the Big 12’s top returning running back of 2017?


    After rushing for 2,000 yards, D’Onta Foreman predictably hired an agent and hightailed it out of Austin. Ditto Oklahoma’s dynamic duo of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. However, just because the Big 12 lost three of its biggest stars does not mean it’s without talented playmakers out of the backfield. The conference is dotted with quality options that can both move the sticks in the traditional manner or swing out as a receiver in the flat. Foreman’s likely heir, Chris Warren III, is a wild card of particular note now that his injured knee is approaching full strength.

    Top Returning Big 12 Running Backs

    5. Terence Williams, Baylor

    Overshadowed by the Bears’ trying 2016 season was the emergence of young backs new coach Matt Rhule can build around. Williams, for example, who needed just 185 carries to rush for a team-high 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has good size, 6-1 and 220 pounds, easily shedding arm tackles as he busts through a hole. Both Williams and the more elusive JaMycal Hasty will have a chance to flourish in a new system that figures to rely a little more on the ground game.

    4. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

    Hill was a revelation in 2016 for a Cowboy offense that was looking for more balance to complement the passing of Mason Rudolph. In his first season out of Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School, the young jackrabbit led the team with 1,142 yards and six touchdowns on 206 carries. Hill is undersized, playing at a mere 171 pounds as a rookie, so he relies on his speed to get to the edge and avoid an accumulation of hits.

    3. Chris Warren III, Texas

    The Longhorns lost one battering ram, D’Onta Foreman, to the NFL Draft, but they’ve got another one waiting in the wings. Warren missed the final eight weeks of his sophomore season to a knee injury, so it’s easy to forget that he had two 100-yard games in the opening month. And he went for 276 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie versus Texas Tech. Yeah, Warren is a 6-2, 252-pound load, but he also has the good feet and quickness to sidestep oncoming traffic.

    2. Kyle Hicks, TCU

    In a year that the Horned Frogs were looking for offensive reinforcements, Hicks stepped up to fill the void in 2016. He became the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher in six seasons, advertising his versatility with 47 receptions for 417 additional yards and a couple of touchdowns. Hicks is a smooth operator, often moving faster than it appears, and his soft hips and artistic spins make would-be tacklers look silly in the open field.

    1. Justin Crawford, West Virginia

    Mountaineer fans are eager to see what Crawford can do with a full workload in 2017. In his debut out of Northwest Mississippi Community College, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year rushed for 1,184 yards despite starting only four games. Included in his rushing total was a 331-yard outburst versus Oklahoma on a snow-covered field. Crawford, who is married with two sons, will be playing with a little more motivation this fall than the typical student-athlete.

    MORE: Top Returning Running Backs In College Football For 2017

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