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Seeking Gamebreakers, Part 1 - Tailbacks

Last year at this time we were excited about all the talent returning on offense and gravely concerned about the defense in general, and the back seven in particular. As spring practice gets underway this year, the shoe is on the other foot, as Texas lost its top three explosive gamebreakers on offense. Limas Sweed, Jermichael Finley, and Jamaal Charles are all gone, leaving in their wake a huge question for Longhorn fans: who can be a gamebreaker on offense in 2008?

For Part 1 of this series, we'll review the running backs. Wide receivers next.

Vondrell McGee - The redshirt sophomore has a low center of gravity and squares his shoulders exceptionally well when running to the hole. He's not afraid to run in between the tackles - hell, nickname is "Bulldozer," to give you an idea of his mindset. That's not to say he's not fast, however. At 5-10, 210 lbs, he's built a lot like Emmitt Smith, he has quick feet and, most importantly, excellent acceleration. The coaches like him, and so do I. Can he be a home run hitter for Texas? That's not clear, but he can be productive.

How to run with purpose, Vol. 1.

Foswhitt "Fozzy" Whittaker - Fozzy redshirted his freshman year but will have every opportunity to compete for important snaps this year. The most impressive thing about his film is how supremely controlled his lower body is. He uses his hips and quick feet to change directions instantly and effortlessly, making him the definition of a "slippery" runner. He doesn't have Jamaal Charles' top speed, but he appears a good bit more elusive. Let's call him "very interesting" for now.

Not a video game. He really changes direction like that.

Cody Johnson - Also a redshirt freshman, Cody Johnson is... well, not a home run hitter. At 5-11, 255, with the nickname of "Fat Boy," it's safe to say whatever role he has will be situational. That's not to say he might not turn out to be a useful, productive player. But he's not the gamebreaker Texas is seeking right now. (No embeddable video available.)

Christ Ogbonnaya - I like Chris O. He's a fine receiver, a solid blocker, and a useful player for a multitude of situations. But he's not a gamebreaker in any sense of the word, and if Texas is giving him 10+ touches a game, you'll know our offense is in trouble.

Tre Newton - I can't see how Newton doesn't redshirt this season, and given his lack of speed, it's more likely than not he's on the Chris O career track. You gotta love his TD run from the state championship game two years ago, though.

I. will. not. go. down.

Jeremy Hills - He's got a nice long stride when he's in the open field, but he runs too upright and seems to expend a lot of energy getting going. You can tell he's a superb athlete, but he's not the most natural football player I've ever seen. A redshirt is certain. And I kind of wonder if a position switch might not be in the cards at some point, too. He doesn't seem like a natural tailback to me.

Likes to leap.

DeSean Hales - Should we even include him among the tailbacks? It's not totally clear where or how Texas plans to use DeSean. What is clear is that he has the speed, quickness and athleticism to be a potential difference maker on offense right away. On an offense desperately seeking playmakers, there should be snaps for the true freshman right away.

Yeah. That's pretty.