Heading into the 2004 season, the Oklahoma Sooners had nearly all of the pieces in place for another run at a national title – a Heisman-winning quarterback, the best receiver in school history, an experienced offensive line, a talented defense.
The big question: Who was going to carry the water in the running game?
Freshman phenom Adrian Peterson answered that one pretty quickly, running for nearly 2,000 yards on the season when all was said and done.
In 2007, redshirt freshman running back DeMarco Murray took Sooner Nation by storm. Last year, it was rookie runner Roy Finch.
Now, it’s Brandon Williams‘ turn to turn some heads in Norman.
As soon as the ink was dry on 2010, Texas signee Malcolm Brown started winning acclaim as the consensus top running back recruit in the nation for 2011. Williams, on the other hand, worked his way up the rankings with a stellar 2010 campaign at Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas. Rivals elevated him to coveted five-star status, ranking Williams 14th overall in the class of 2011 and third among running backs nationally.
Williams’ natural ability would probably be good enough to earn some playing time this fall. However, as an early enrollee, Williams will have a full spring’s worth of practices to start getting down to business.
Finch is on the shelf recovering from offseason foot surgery. Jermie Calhoun and Jonathan Miller are recovering from injuries as well. That means sophomore Brennan Clay and Williams will receive the bulk of the action in the next few weeks, which can only help to speed along Williams’ development.
Murray is off to the NFL, taking 350 offensive touches from 2010 with him. That leaves plenty of room for Williams to contribute in 2011.
Don’t expect a Peterson-like freshman year from Williams. That’s asking way too much, especially given OU’s relatively ineffective rushing game of late and the bevy of players vying for carries.
Even so, in terms of pure talent, no other back on the Sooner roster can match Williams. Look for the freshman to be a key cog in the Crimson and Cream offensive machine by the Red River Shootout.