Texas running back Chris Warren III (25) cuts around the corner behind the block of Texas offensive lineman Alex Anderson (63) knocking down UTEP linebacker Dante Lovilette (45) during the first quarter of action held at Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: With Foreman exiting, it becomes Chris Warren III’s chance to shine

Posted November 30th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • There may not be a next D'Onta Foreman, but Chris Warren III will get first crack at replacing him next season.
  • Texas will apply next year for a medical hardship season for Warren, who hurt a knee in the fourth game of this season.
  • Herman's Houston Cougars ranked only 87th nationally in rushing but rated 13th a year ago behind Kenneth Farrow, who's now a San Diego Charger.

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As expected, D’Onta Foreman turned pro on Wednesday.

Tom Herman probably turned fifty shades of red, not that he expected anything different.

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It’s not every day that a new football coach loses a 2,000-yard rusher. Of course, the new Longhorns coach never really had Foreman since Herman just took the job officially four days ago.

Still, Foreman was clearly the most valuable player on the Texas team this season. Yes, even 5-7 teams have an MVP.

But Herman doesn’t have a ready-made MVP on next year’s team. It could be sophomore-to-be quarterback Shane Buechele or maybe freshman-to-be Sam Ehlinger. Maybe wide receivers Collin Johnson or Dorian Leonard or Devin Duvernay or even Armanti Foreman, who will be back for his senior year and gung-ho about proving he’s not just the other Foreman.

Texas's running back Chris Warren III looks to escape a tackle by UTEP's Will Hernandez(76) and Lawrence Montegut during the first half at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Texas’s running back Chris Warren III looks to escape a tackle by UTEP’s Will Hernandez(76) and Lawrence Montegut during the first half at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

It’d be a big bonus if the best player on the 2017 team is the next D’Onta Foreman, but that’s not likely. Those don’t grow on trees. Certainly not Texas trees because it’d been a minute since the last great Texas running back.

Chris Warren III will replace him in the backfield after an injury-shortened sophomore season, but don’t bank on another 2,000 yards. Warren’s a big and powerful and a formidable presence, but doesn’t have Foreman’s lateral movement or breakaway speed. Texas announced Wednesday it will apply for a medical hardship season to regain a year of eligibility for Warren, who suffered a knee injury in the fourth game, and is very optimistic.

So will Warren become the third player in school history to top 2,000 yards?

“We’ll see,” Warren said Wednesday after showing up to support Foreman.

Warren’s good, but probably not that good. Kyle Porter’s good, but didn’t show nearly as much flash as most hoped. Kirk Johnson has some talent, but needs better health. Tristian Houston was buried on the depth chart amidst rumors that he could be looking elsewhere.

You can expect Herman to bring in perhaps two running backs in the February class to beef up the competition in that room. His new assistants have already visited three running back recruits, but La Grange’s JK Dobbins seems firm with Ohio State at mid-term. Herman can appreciate a good running game, his Cougars’ ranking in rushing having fallen off from 13th nationally to 87th this season.

It had been a while since the Longhorns had a superstar running back of Foreman’s caliber. They’ve hauled in five-star talents like Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray, but neither ever hit 1,000 yards. Foreman’s a special back, however.

Now it’s up to Herman to scour the country for the next one.

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