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While We're Still a BCS Team: Runningback

In the second installment of the incredibly original idea of looking at our football team going into the 2010 campaign, I'm going to look at the guy that was arguably Iowa State's offensive MVP in 2009.

The Starter

Alexander Robinson (#33, 5-9, 186, RsSR)

As much as you can be 100% sure that Austen Arnaud will be the starter at quarterback in 2010, Robinson is an even better bet to be the starter at runningback. Similar to Arnaud, he was on fire to start the year before getting hurt. When healthy, he was one of the best runningbacks in the Big 12. When hurt, he was still pretty damn good. During the Farmageddon matchup with Kansas State, he essentially hobbled down the field for what has to be the most gimpy 37 yard gain that I have ever seen. 

While Robinson isn't the most perfect fit for the spread offense, his work ethic is. He's a tireless worker who has played through injury and is a favorite of the coaching staff. He's not the fastest or strongest runningback, but he is fast enough and has vastly improved in the strength department. He's also the best blocking back on the team, and has formed into a threat from the backfield.

Robinson looks to be the latest in the line of quality runningbacks that Iowa State produced during the first part of the McCarney era. To be sure, he's capable of 1,500 yards this year. Can he get it? He'll need to stay healthy. But if he and Arnaud can edge closer to what they are capable of this year, the offense has a chance to be solid.

The Backup Committee

Beau Blankenship (#42, 5-8, 200, So), James White (#22, 5-8, 182, RsFR), Bo Williams (#34, 6-0, 224, RsJR), Jeff Woody (#32, 5-11, 234, RsFR)

Much like the Iowa State coaching staff, I have no idea how it's going to shake out behind A-Rob for the backup battle. Bo Williams has the most raw talent. He also has a concussion, has trouble with the playbook and can't pick up a block. The staff liked Blankenship enough to play him early, and he's known as a "bowling ball" type runningback that can pick up yards when you expect him to get tackled. White is probably the best fit for the system, but was in the doghouse of the staff early - he's a true cutback runner. Woody shot up the depth chart as a tough runner who plays within himself.

So who will backup A-Rob? Tough to say. Could be one of these guys. Could be one of the new recruits. My money would be on James White, though Bo Williams has a do the other two, I guess. This one's a tough read to be really honest, and it'll probably be the guy that has the best fall camp.



Brad Adams (#48, 5-10, 184, So), Walker Woods (#41, 5-10, 189, RsFR)

Two guys that will be very effective scout teamers in practice, I'm sure.

The Recruits

Shontrelle Johnson (5-10, 180, FR), Duran Hollis (6-1, 180, FR)

Expect Hollis to redshirt. Johnson is an interesting story. Originally a Northwestern commit, Iowa State kept working him until he switched to the Cyclones. Johnson was offered by the Florida Gators at defensive back, but Johnson wanted to stay in the backfield, so he stayed with the Cyclones. The coaching staff has indicated that they will give Johnson every opportunity to start (which means every opportunity to back up A-Rob), and he has as much talent as any recruit coming in.

The Verdict

Alexander Robinson is one of the most capable runningbacks in the Big 12, and if healthy, he can produce like it as well. The backup cast has talent but question marks. Could be a fun group to watch progress, and it will be interesting to see who emerges as the #2.