The worst kept secret in football came to fruition on draft day and try as they may to disguise it,…
Rushing To Glory
In my 40 years of watching great running backs from the Lone Star State the list seems endless. All had different characteristics, but accomplished the same objective-gaining huge chucks of yardage. After Texas tailback Chris Gilbert posted 202 rushing yards against TCU on an autumn day in 1967, one Horned Frog defender was heard to say afterward, "Catching Gilbert is like trying to catch a jackrabbit with a catcher's mitt." So many memories come to mind. Watching OU's Greg Pruitt turn the corner on the Cotton Bowl carpet in 1971, you'd swear you saw smoke following his path to the goal line. The graceful and fluid movements of Eric Dickerson, who made the game look easy. Fans and foes alike still speak in awe over the amazing talent and ability of Joe Washington. The power and acceleration of Bridge City's Steve Worster, the productivity of Dallas Carter's Darren Lewis, the all-time rushing leader in the old Southwest Conference and Billy Sims, who was bigger than the tiny town of Hooks he made famous. Tommy Ford, Bubba Bean, David Overstreet, Ernie Koy, Ted Koy, George Woodard, Donnie Anderson, Curtis Dickey, Rodney Thomas, the names go on and on. Texas-born, Texas-bred. And arguably the best player to ever come out of the Lone Star State, the Tyler Rose, Earl Campbell. Once former Houston Oiler head coach Bum Phillips was asked if Campbell was the best running back he's even seen. "I don't know," Bum replied. "But I tell you what, it wouldn't take long to call roll." On another occasion, a writer asked why Earl got up so slow after every carry. "I don't know about getting up slow," Phillips quipped. "I only know that he goes down slooooooooo!" With so many great memories, that brings us to this year's crop in Texas. Now, with the intense and relentless recruiting coverage on the Internet, the "hype" of these seventeen-year-old kids has become almost unbearable, but there are some prospects in 2003 that could actually be classified as "big time". With the season yet to begin, what other superlatives can be uttered concerning Palestine's Adrian Peterson? He's has great size (six-foot-two and 205-lbs), speed (4.4 forty and 10.33 100-meter) and numbers (2,051 rushing yards in 2002). Peterson has great acceleration off the line of scrimmage and makes good decisions. He also gains many of his yards after the initial contact. And even with all the hype and attention, Adrian remains a very quiet and modest young man. We had The Woodland's Samson Taylor at the College Station Nike Camp this past May and the kid's a real specimen, being measured at five-foot-eleven (he looked taller) and weighing 200-lbs. He also ran an impressive 4.34 forty at the camp with a 37.1 vertical leap, 3.97 shuttle and did 21 reps on the 185-lb bench. He reminds you of an Eddie George-type of back, posting 1,190 all-purpose yards in 2002.Taylor's teammate from last year, tailback Kenny Hicks, has moved over to Klein Forest for his senior year. After rushing for 1,361 yards last season for the Highlanders, this should help both Taylor and Hicks showcase their individual abilities as district opponents instead of teammates. The story of Round Rock McNeil's Myron Hardy is an interesting one. Depending on whom you talk to, he's projected as a running back, wide receiver, defensive back or even linebacker on the next level. Since he's already committed to Texas, we'll let Longhorn head coach Mack Brown and staff make that call. We do know that last season Hardy rushed for 1,336 yards on 237 carries with 16 touchdowns on a team that complied a 4-6 record, not making the playoffs in 2002. And the kid has good size at six-foot-two and 200-lbs with impressive athletic ability. Often times, running backs in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex tend to get overlooked. That could have been the case for Richardson Pearce's Parrish Fisher last season even though he gained 1,646 yards on 246 carries with 16 touchdowns. This kid is a real workhorse with good size (five-foot-eleven and 205-lbs) and speed (4.4 forty) who seldom coughs up the football (only two fumbles in 2002.) With a recent offer from Iowa State, who has a history of doing well recruiting tailbacks in the DFW Metroplex, Fisher will be receiving plenty of attention in 2003. There are many, many more backs we'll be profiling throughout the season, not only in Texas, but also in the entire Big XII region. So who will be the next tailback to make that long and legendary list of elite runners from the Lone Star State? Only time will tell.
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