TCU Position Breakdown: Tailbacks


If you missed Friday's quarterback breakdown, click here.  Coming tomorrow, the offensive line.

Depth Chart

1a.)  Matthew Tucker (6-1, 210 So)

As a true freshman Matthew Tucker burst onto the scene and into the 3-man rotation with a striking 2009 campaign.  Tucker placed 2nd on the team in rushing with 676 yards on 105 attempts (6.4 ypc) and 8 touchdowns.   Tucker is a hard-nosed runner that can be counted on between the tackles but also has deceptive speed once he gets to the 2nd level of the defense.

1b.)  Ed Wesley (5-9, 200 So)

Another back to have a breakout campaign in 2009 was redshirt freshman Ed Wesley.  Wesley had nearly identical rushing numbers to Matthew Tucker with 638 yards on 101 attempts (6.3 ypc) and 4 touchdowns.  However Wesley differentiated himself with his contributions to the passing game by turning 8 receptions into 170 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Look for Wesley's role in the passing game to be expanded in 2010 and possibly work some at slot in a capacity similar to that of the now departed Ryan Christian.

2.)  Waymon James (5-8, 203 RS Fr)

Waymon James was another big-time signee in the class of 2009, ranked by Rivalsas the second-best running back in Texas and the tenth-best running back in the nation, James had offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas Tech, and Georgia Tech.  He redshirted the 2009 season and apparently made good use of his time in the weight room by putting on 13 lbs of muscle since his senior year of high school.  This Sherman, Texas, back runs like a greased bowling ball and his low center of gravity makes tackling him a tall order.  He figures to work into the rotation right away and become TCU's very own "Sherman Tank."

3.)  Aundre Dean (6-0, 215 So) 

A transfer from UCLA, Dean sat out the 2009 season per NCAA transfer rules and now has 3 years of  remaining eligibility.  A member of the 2008 Rivals 250 and a 2008 Parade All-American, Dean's offer list coming out of high school was a "who's who" of college football programs that included Texas, Alabama, and Ohio State.  The Katy, TX, standout played high school football with TCU starting quarterback Andy Dalton who apparently played a role in bringing the heralded back to Fort Worth. Dean is a physical runner with a throw-back running style that resembles that of an Earl Campbell or Eric Dickerson.  With so much talent at the running back position Coach Gary Patterson decided to have Dean try his hand at strong safety in the practices leading up to the Fiesta Bowl, however this experiment was short-lived.  Dean returned to running back in the spring, and after an impressive showing he appears to be locked in at running back.

4.)  Dwight Smith (5-10, 218 Fr)

Dwight Smith at this point in his career is more myth than man, with tall tales being woven about his legend that would make even Chuck Norris blush.  He is widely regarded as an elite talent that slipped through the cracks due to questions regarding his NCAA academic qualifying, possibly due in part to complications in the transfer of coursework during a move from California to Carhtage, TX.  If it wasn't for the uncertanty surrounding his eligibility it is likely that Smith would be currently spending his Saturdays in somewhere like Los Angeles or Austin.  Smith, a class of 2009 TCU signee, did not arrive on campus until the Spring of 2010 as he waited for the NCAA to review his case which was eventually ruled in his favor.  Smith was named the Texas 3A Player of the Year by the Associated Press after a herculean senior effort where he rushed for 2,820 yards and 43 touchdowns including an awe-inspiring 272 yards and 5 touchdowns in the state-title game in 2008, Carthage High School's first state championship.  Smith's highly anticipated debut in the 2010 purple and white spring game was bittersweet as he was impressive early but eventually went down with a knee and had to be helped off the field.  The signifigance and status of Smith's inury is unknown at this point but given the Horned Frogs current depth at running back it would not be surprising for him to redshirt in 2010, giving one more year for his knee to heal and his legend to grow.

5.) Jercell Fort (5-11, 195 Jr)

This Los Angeles product originally came to TCU as a cornerback and was moved to running back midway through the 2007 season.  Fort had 25 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown in 2009.

6.)  Jai Cavness (5-8, 205 Jr)

What jumps off the page about Jai Cavness is his apparent weight gain the past year, as he was listed at 175 lbs in the 2009 media guide.  So either Cavness has been readying himself for a statement-making 2010, or he has discovered a new found love for Cold Stone Creamery.  Cavness was regarded as a speed back so it will be interesting to watch how his running style has evolved now that he has strapped on an extra 30 lbs. 

7.) Ethan Grant (5-10, 175 Fr)

A member of the Rivals 250 in 2010 this Florida speedster had offers to Oregon, Miami (Fla), Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  Grant was chosen to represent the nation in this years innagural "USA vs. The World" game in which he scored a touchdown.  Grant is a shifty speed back who will most likely redshirt in 2010 in order to add some weight to his frame, maybe Jai Cavness can give him some pointers.

Summary

In losing only one key contributor at RB from the 2009 team (Joseph Turner: 147 att, 754 yds, 11 tds) and adding backs like Waymon James, Aundre Dean, and Dwight Smith to the fold, TCU has nothing short of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the running back depth chart.  Young, deep, and immensley talented, this stable of backs rivals that of any team in the nation.  Mack Brown would trade tailbacks with Gary Patterson in a heartbeat, and he would throw in a crate of fresh-cut Bevo steaks for good measure.  The only downside is that there are only so many carries to go around.

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