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Oklahoma State football: Why depth and talent at running back is key for Cowboys

Oklahoma State running back Dezmon Jackson (27) was effective when called upon late last season. [BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN]
Oklahoma State running back Dezmon Jackson (27) was effective when called upon late last season. [BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN]

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State’s run game turned into a committee job thanks to a few key injuries in 2020, and that led to the emergence of some unexpected performances from players deep on the depth chart.

The season certainly didn’t go as expected after Chuba Hubbard returned from his 2019 campaign in which he led the nation in rushing. But 2020 brought promise for the future of the position.

Here’s a look at OSU’s running back position heading into 2021:

Season rewind: Hubbard struggled at times behind an offensive line that was battling injuries from the start of the season. Then Hubbard himself suffered an ankle injury that slowed his production and effectiveness.

Top backup LD Brown looked like a star at times, then was dealt his own share of injuries down the stretch.

Redshirt junior Dezmon Jackson and true freshman Dominic Richardson each had their moments in the spotlight late in the year.

Who’s out: Chuba Hubbard, Deondrick Glass

Who’s in: Jaylen Warren, RSr., Jaden Nixon, Fr.

The take: The wildcard in the OSU backfield for 2021 is Brown, who is expected to return for a second senior season, but hasn’t made an official announcement of any sort.

If he’s back, Brown is sure to eat up the bulk of the carries. But Jackson and Richardson proved worthy of playing time, and Warren, a graduate transfer, was productive in his career at Utah State.

Coach Mike Gundy and his staff will have a lot of work ahead to sort out how they want to use their wealth of running backs.

Projected depth chart

LD Brown, RSr., 5-9, 205

Dezmon Jackson, RJr., 5-11, 218

Dominic Richardson, Fr., 6-0, 205

Jaylen Warren, RSr., 5-8, 215

Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›