Earl Campbell is, and may forever be, Texas’ greatest running back ever.
Ricky Williams is second.
Where one slots Chris Gilbert, Roosevelt Leaks, Cedric Benson or Jamaal Charles is entirely up to you.
Now entering the discussion: D’Onta Foreman, Texas’ first 1,000-yard rusher in almost a decade.
Foreman plays in an era where spread offenses create natural running lanes and tackling is sometimes an afterthought. Still, the former two-star recruit has ripped off nine straight 100-yard games, two shy of Campbell’s school record. And he could knock Williams out of second place on the school’s single-season rushing list.
Before anybody hands the Doak Walker Award to Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, take a long, hard look at the hard-charging Foreman. Despite only two years of extended playing time, the junior is on pace to finish as one of the top 10 runners in Texas history.
“I think it’s an incredibly cool situation that he’s in,” receiver Jacorey Warrick said. “He’s not just breaking records of just anybody. We’re talking about Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell and Cedric Benson, guys like that. Guys who are in the history books already. So I think it’s cool the attention he’s getting, and he deserves it.”
Texas’ next opponent, Texas Tech, allows 213.8 rushing yards per game. Chris Warren III had 276 yards against the Red Raiders last season. West Virginia piled up 332 rushing yards against Tech. Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon had 263 by himself.
From a stat-padding perspective, this is a big week for the 6-foot-1, 249-pounder from Texas City.
Asked if Foreman should be in the Doak Walker conversation, Texas coach Charlie Strong said, “For sure.”
“He’s an unbelievable runner,” Strong said. “I say this all the time, if you watch him … you know the position he’s in is because of how he works in practice. He takes it from practice to the game.
“He’s a very unselfish football player,” the coach added. “He’s not one of those guys that says, ‘I gotta have the ball,’ because he knows when he gets it, he’s going to do something with it. It may be a 2-yard gain, but at some point, he’s going to bust one right down the pipe.”
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 31, 2016
Foreman knew he was close to 1,000 yards last week before facing Baylor. Foreman asked Strong if the public address announcer would recognize him once he reached that plateau. Foreman wanted his linemen to see that, hear it and feel they were getting recognized, too.
“Unreal. It’s unreal,” Foreman said after Saturday’s win over Baylor. He also went around the locker room and shook every lineman’s hand. “I’m so proud of those guys in the locker room, our defense, O-line, quarterback, receivers, you know.”
Foreman had a career-high 250 yards against the Bears. On Monday, he was named the Big 12’s offensive player of the week. Not to be outdone, quarterback Shane Buechele was named the league’s newcomer of the week. Buechele threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
“He just runs with everything he has,” left tackle Connor Williams said of Foreman, “and we get the best out of him on every play.”
First-year offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, who famously didn’t watch any previous UT film, said as the weeks go on, “you realize this kid is something special.”
“We’ve just got to continue to utilize him and get him better with his progression,” Gilbert said.
Foreman has become so critical to UT’s offensive success, Strong is now facing questions about not giving it to him enough.
Gilbert had Foreman split out wide on a critical 2-point conversion try against Baylor. Strong said the Horns wanted to get a linebacker to move out of the box. Swoopes got stuffed on the run, although Strong said video showed a hole was open, albeit briefly.
“Well, he wasn’t out there (wide) 20 times or 10,” Strong said. “There’s a reason for that.”
It’d sure be interesting to see what Foreman’s numbers would look like had Warren not suffered a knee injury against Oklahoma State on Oct. 1. Foreman has had 30 carries against Iowa State and 32 against Baylor.
He’ll likely have a similar workload down the stretch, giving Foreman a chance to boost his numbers even more.
“He’s just dedicated to get every inch he can,” Williams said, “and he knows that football is a game of inches.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.