One of the main training camp goals for the Oregon State football team is to figure out how to use its stable of running backs.
A competition began in the spring of 2011 when Jacquizz Rodgers left for the NFL a year early. So far, no one has replaced him as an all-around back.
Coach Mike Riley would like to find a running back that he can leave in games for all situations — one who can rush in long- and short-yardage situations, catch the ball and pass block.
Last year, the Beavers rotated in different players in specific situations and the opposition knew what was coming.
The four primary backs from last year, along with redshirt freshman Storm Woods, continued the competition this past spring. Freshman recruit Chris Brown joined the mix this month.
“We are looking hard in the next couple weeks for the guys who are going to emerge as the top backs,” Riley said. “I don’t know who is going to surface, but there’s a lot of good football players there.”
Here’s a look at the running backs in camp now that Jovan Stevenson moved to cornerback.
• Year: Sophomore
• Size: 5-foot-8, 204 pounds
• Hometown: Chesterfield, Mo.
• Key attribute: Strong runner who breaks tackles.
• Issues: Hamstring injuries and fumbled too much last season.
• OSU experience: Earned starting job as a true freshman out of training camp last year, but a recurring hamstring injury after the first game plagued him most of the season. Agnew still had a team-leading 423 rushing yards and five TDs.
• High school highlights: Two-year starter at corner and running back out of De Smet Jesuit High and two-time all-conference ball carrier. He rushed for 904 yard and 17 TDs as a junior and 505 yards and seven TDs in a shortened season due to hamstring problems.
• Recruiting evaluation: Rivals.com ranked him the 45th-best running back prospect in the nation and a three-star athlete.
• Year: Senior
• Size: 6-foot-1, 210 pounds
• Hometown: Salem
• Key attribute: Good receiver and pass blocker.
• Issues: Not a shifty, tackle breaker.
• OSU experience: Mostly a special teams player until last season when he was used as the third-down back and started two games. He was third on the team in receptions with 31 and scored on a 31-yard pass against Washington State.
• High school highlights: Three-year starter at West Salem High, and 2007 conference and regional player of the year.
• Recruiting evaluation: Came to OSU as a walk-on, earned a scholarship from special teams work and then considered on the offense.
• Year: Sophomore
• Size: 5-foot-7, 195 pounds
• Hometown: Antioch, Calif.
• Key attribute: Good all-around back
• Issues: Not major breakaway runner.
• OSU experience: Played in 12 games and started three last season. He had 211 yards and one TD. More experienced than a typical sophomore since he greyshirted and joined the team in the spring of 2011.
• High school highlights: MaxPreps.com East Bay Player of the Year in 2009 with 2,050 yards and 28 TDs. There were two more TDs on punt returns and one receiving. He was first-team all-area as a cornerback.
• Recruiting evaluation: Three-star athlete and 23rd player in his position in 2010.
• Year: Redshirt freshman
• Size: 5-foot-10, 202 pounds
• Hometown: Pflugerville, Texas
• Key attribute: Power runner
• Issues: Inexperienced
• OSU experience: Played well on the scout team during his redshirt season to be named the co-MVP of the scout team.
• High school highlights: Three-year starter at Pflugerville High and earned all-district and all-state honors. He rushed for 1,216 yards and 16 TDs as a senior, and combined for 1,257 yards and 13 TDs as a sophomore and junior.
• Recruiting evaluation: Three-star athlete.
• Year: Freshman
• Size: 5-foot-10, 208 pounds
• Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
• Key attribute: Knows how to find the hole in the defense.
• Issues: Has a lot to learn in a month
• OSU experience: None
• High school highlights: Rushed for 5,018 yards and 65 TDs in his career at San Joaquin High. He rushed for 1,947 yards as a senior and 1,884 as a junior. He was three-time all-conference and two-time all-state.
• Recruiting evaluation: Three-star athlete and Rivals.com ranked him the No. 21 ball carrier in the nation last year.