Probable Starter: Kenny Williams, 5' 9" 220, junior, Pflugerville, Texas
Backups: DeAndre Washington, 5' 8" 180, sophomore, Missouri City, Texas; Sadale Foster, 5' 7" 185, senior, Riverside, California; Quinton White, 5' 7" 195, freshman, College Station, Texas
Most Intriguing Battle: Could DeAndre Washington possibly unseat returning starter Kenny Williams for the starting spot?
Position Power Rating: 88
Over the last several seasons, Texas Tech has been well stocked with solid running backs, none of whom were superstars. Verily, one must go all the way back to 1998 to find a Red Raider back who rushed for 1,000 yards—that would be Ricky Williams. That refrain looks to repeat yet again in 2013.
Not that this is a problem. The Tech Air Raid, in its various iterations, is not predicated upon having an Earl Campbell in the backfield. Contrariwise, this offense functions at peak levels when a do-it-all back is in the lineup. Red Raider backs need to be competent runners, blockers and receivers; they need not master the running aspect of the position. And it looks like new coach Kliff Kingsbury will be blessed with just these sorts of backs.
Returning starter Kenny Williams rushed for 824 yards last season, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and caught 16 passes for good measure. He's a powerful, between-the-tackles runner, who breaks arm-tackles. Williams is also a solid blocker who has also made himself into a reliable receiver out of the backfield. He's not a human highlight reel, but Tech can certainly win games with him.
It will be fascinating to hear how DeAndre Washington fares after his return from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last season. Washington looked extremely promising two years ago as a freshman, and supposedly tore it up as a scout team member in Thursday night football last season. He's a shifty scat-back who reminds me a bit of former Red Raider Taurean Henderson, one of the greatest receiving backs in the history of college football. A fully healthy Washington could challenge Williams for the starting role, and will definitely get copious snaps, even if he's not the starter.
Senior Sadale Foster, recruited to be a return man, proved a very pleasant surprise as a back instead, last season. He rushed for 451 yards and averaged five yards per tote, while leading Tech backs in receptions with 18. Foster is another shifty back, but also has tremendous straight-line speed as he demonstrated on a 50-plus yard TD jaunt against West Virginia last season. Foster is also a very durable back, which is no mean thing considering that Tech's three other backs have all suffered serious injuries in their collegiate careers. Foster will likely be a situational back in the Red Raider attack.
The complete unknown is redshirt freshman Quinton White. He was reportedly impressing the coaches in workouts last season before succumbing to a knee injury. But with all the talent in front of him, White would do well to get more than mop-up snaps. Then again, running backs take more punishment than any position, and there's no such thing as too much depth there.