OSU football: Dezmon Jackson, Dominic Richardson have Cowboys excited about future of running back position
STILLWATER — Every year since 2015, Oklahoma State has had an NFL-caliber running back on its roster.
From Chris Carson to Justice Hill to Chuba Hubbard, the running back position has been one of many blessings.
But this season, when Hubbard and his backup, senior LD Brown, went down with injuries, the Cowboys got a closer look at their future at running back.
And offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn was pleased with the results he saw from junior power back Dez Jackson and true freshman speedster Dominic Richardson.
“I love it,” Dunn said. “Those guys have stepped up for us. That’s a pretty good one-two punch moving into 2021. We’re excited about where we’re headed there.”
Jackson went for 235 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech in his first career start, then added another 100-yard game against TCU.
Richardson broke loose for 169 yards and three scores last weekend against Baylor in the regular-season finale, which was the second-most rushing yards in a game by an OSU true freshman. It came in second to the 206-yard performance by Thurman Thomas in 1984.
The Cowboys learn their bowl destination on Sunday, and then will begin to prepare for that game, which includes deciding how to use their available running backs, Jackson, Richardson and possibly Brown.
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The Cowboys were the only Power 5 program this season to have three players with multiple 100-yard games, and if Richardson gets going in the bowl, he could bump it to four.
The question mark surrounding the running back position going forward was depth, with only one other scholarship player, true freshman Zach Middleton, on the roster.
With Hubbard heading to the NFL, and Brown in pandemic limbo — he has the option to return next season for a sixth year if he so chooses — the Cowboys added two more backs on signing day Wednesday.
They brought in Jaden Nixon from Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas, to help solidify the long-term. And for the immediate future, they added 5-foot-8, 220-pound Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren, who will be a senior next fall.
That helps to fill the running back room with bodies, competition and promise.
“It’s a pretty good deal,” coach Mike Gundy said. “I’m excited about the direction we’re going with those guys. Maybe we can get some linemen back and keep those guys healthy.
“I’m excited about what those running backs bring to the table for the next three or four or five years.”
The offensive line will be the bigger question next season, based on the lack of consistency they deal with due to injuries. But Dunn thinks this group could take a collective step forward in the offseason.
“I think we’re gonna probably flip the script next year with our offensive line,” Dunn said. “This year, we’ve had to help them out in protection and do a lot of things to try and bring some young guys along.
“Next year, hell, I think they’re gonna be the dang strength of our offense. It’s pretty encouraging.”
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.