2010 Running Back Recruits Keep a Close Eye on Kansas

JDAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Jake Sharp #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks tries to get past Vince Hall #9 (L) and Cam Martin #41 (R) of the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first quarter of the FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on January 3, 2008 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Coach Mark Mangino has proven himself to be a successful recruiter since his arrival here at Kansas, and has been especially successful at recruiting running backs during his tenure.

His 2010 class already looks solid overall, but there are still some big fish to be caught out there in the college football recruiting ocean, and I don't think our coaches are hanging up their poles any time soon.

Here's a look at some notable running backs who still have KU on their radar...

D.J. Jones, Denison, TX

Jones is somewhat unheralded for a guy who compiled 2,200-plus rushing yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior in the state of Texas.  He doesn't have the most astonishing set of physical tools (6' 0", 210 pounds, 4.5+ 40), but is as smart as running backs come.

Jones isn't tipping his hand just yet, but he reportedly likes the Big 12, and Kansas is a very relevant name on his list, no matter what website you're looking at. 

I'm not sure he's a spectacular fit for KU's offense, but he is a tough, 4a Texas high school kid who does nothing but rack up stats, kind of like Todd Reesing.  I love what I see out of Jones and, if nothing else, he certainly fits Mangino's hard-working philosophy.

Joseph Randle, Wichita, KS

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Joseph may be among the most popular running backs without a team next to his name, and while I heard rumors that Joe no longer has Kansas near the top of the list, I found out during my panic check that, thankfully, Rivals and ESPN are saying otherwise.

Unfortunately, KU is not his first choice, and if any space opens up at OU, all reports point to him jumping at the offer.  However, he is still expected to visit K-State and KU before he begins some serious narrowing-down of his available options.

If he does choose KU, he has the talent to make an immediate impact in place of the departed Jake Sharp as a true freshman.

Darryl Fields, Madill, OK

Fields may have his sights set close to home on Oklahoma State or Arkansas, but he hasn't thrown out the notion of becoming a Jayhawk either.

At 6' 1" and 195 pounds, Fields is tall, fast, strong and has the potential to keep growing.  Despite all of these positives, however, there's something about him that makes him seem like a better fit for the Cowboys or the Razorbacks.

I would never turn down a recruit of Fields' caliber, but for some reason I don't have as strong a feeling about Fields as I do the other afore-mentioned backs.  I think he will probably end up in Stillwater.

Tyson Gulley, RB Akron, OH

Tyson is not a big name recruit, but will make an impact somewhere in this league.  The 5' 9" 175 pound all-purpose back has vicious quicks and runs a lot like current fan-favorite Jake Sharp.

Unfortunately, with DeShaun Sands under a current red-shirt, James Sims having given a verbal commitment and some bigger names lingering on the list ahead of Tyson, I expect him to take his array of talents to somewhere like Syracuse where he can be on a big stage with a chance to become a big contributor.

The Sleeper

I feel like KU is in the market to reel in at least one of the names above in order to maintain (counting 2010 commit James Sims) five scholarship running backs on the roster.

If, however, each of these falls through or Mangino decides he has the roster space to hold one more running back, there are always more options.

If necessary, my pick of the remaining available options would be Kyaunn Thompson.

He's fast (4.5 40), at 5' 11" he has room to grow, and as a safety net in a running back recruiting pinch, he seems like he would be very excited to join KU if he's given the proper attention and opportunity.

Toben Opurum, Rell Lewis and DeShaun Sands all seem to have KU in good hands for the next few years, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. 

Any one of these guys could someday become a valuable part of KU's growing program.