April 25, 2007

Spring Review: Running backs

Kansas State has a pair of very capable running backs in senior James Johnson and sophomore Leon Patton. The duo split carries last season and combined for 1,012 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while also making real contributions on special teams, but was Johnson able to make a case for being the full-time starter this spring while Patton found himself sidelined due to injury?

The Good News… Few players were more impressive over the course of the entire spring than Johnson, a junior college transfer who found a groove during the middle of the 2006 season by posting back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts against Missouri and Iowa State. Johnson, who admittedly wasn't in great shape upon arriving in Manhattan later than expected last year, has added some bulk to his 5-foot-11 frame without losing any of the speed that helped him return a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown late last season against Kansas. The Port Arthur, Texas, native appears to have the making of feature back at this level.

Patton also appears to have added a bit of muscle and had little to prove this spring after running for 609 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman in 2006. On three separate occasions Patton topped the 100-yard mark last season and also turned in 96 yards on the ground in a win at Colorado. An ankle injury seriously limited Patton this spring, but he'll be at 100 percent long before fall.

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