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TCU Football Position Preview: Running Backs

Darius Anderson is a star. But could another TCU RB be the breakout player that helps the Frogs break through?

Baylor v TCU Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

UPDATE: At print, Fabian Franklin was (and still is) listed on the official TCU Football roster, but a social media post makes it appear that he will not make it to campus this fall:

Additionally, Emari Demercado, a juco signee out of California who committed to the Frogs in May, was added to the roster. We covered him here:

The upcoming season is marked by query. We have lost some irreplaceable talent and have some youth that is relatively unproven. Will the offensive line hold up through the season? Will anyone be able to successfully replace Travin Howard? Will Shawn Robinson be able to throw forty touchdowns before his inevitable and premature ascension to heaven? These questions will eventually define the success of the season and yet amidst the tumult and caprice there exists a remarkable certitude. The iron amongst the surrounding reeds is the position of running back.

We must first sorrowfully say so long to Kyle Hicks whose service was, in large part, one of the reasons for our success last season. Hicks, who in his senior campaign, ran for just over 600 yards was sturdy, reliable and extremely difficult to tackle. Hicks was shifty and often left you scratching your head, as you weren’t quite sure how he was doing what you were witnessing. We are grateful to have been able to watch Kyle and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward.

While it seems that the graduating senior leaves a glaring hole, the running back position appears to be the strongest on the field. Let us look at who is returning and who may surprise us by taking the field this upcoming fall.

Darius Anderson

Darius Anderson came on to the scene like a mighty locomotive in his freshman year against Texas. I just recently watched “3:10 to Yuma” (new version) and I think steam engines are currently circulating in my headspace. While at this pit stop, let us reflect on the great performance given by Russell Crowe in that movie; dude should do more westerns. I also watched “There Will Be Blood” with Daniel Day-Lewis on the same day and man of man is that movie great. If you have the time, my unsolicited recommendation is to watch one or both of these cinematic adventures. Well… that was western talk with JT; Next week we’ll discuss Raw Hide season one with Clint Eastwood. Now back to our scheduled programming. It is seldom that a game ceases instill a competitive spirit and instead fills me with pity for the other team, but that’s exactly how I felt watching Charlie Strong and company let out exasperating sighs as the clock wound down. Anderson, while ripping off a 70-yard run, effectively put the final nail in Charlie Strong’s coffin. While we mostly thought we were attending the funeral, little did we know that we were also present to a coronation. We were witnesses to Anderson’s coming out party that day. And while some felt that he would embrace the sophomore slump aesthetic, he usurped the role of starter and rushed for over 750 yard and 8 touchdowns last season. But for his injury against Oklahoma pt. 1, Anderson would’ve been a 1000-yard rusher last season with relative ease. I expect a healthy Anderson to pick up right where he left off and I fully expect him to rush for 1000 and 10 scores this season.

Sewo Olonilua

CAUTION! MILDLY WARM TAKES AHEAD. Sewo had an up and down season last year. He found form in the relatively unimaginative and perhaps uncouthly named wildfrog formation. (It just feels tacky and kitsch) While Sewo’s strength shine during the Arkansas game he often left something to be desired on the field. His at times erratic play could frustrate fans, making them wonder when Gary would move him to the defensive side of the ball. Insert Fozzie Bear Shame Gif here. It’s difficult to try to pull up a chair when it’s dinner for two and candidly with Anderson and Hicks in the backfield it was difficult for Sewo to truly find a rhythm. Once Anderson went out with an Injury, Olonilua started to gain a comfortability that should translate to this year. Averaging over 7 yards per carry in 3 of the last 4 games of the season, Sewo started to find form. I believe with another offseason under his belt this trend will continue. With Hicks no longer in the picture I expect Sewo to have a monster season. I expect Sewo to be the James Davis the Anderson’s C.J. Spiller. I expect nothing less than a thunder and lightning esque combination. I expect Sewo to have a better season than Anderson this year. That is in no way a comment that Anderson will backslide, but rather denotes the growth and breakout year I believe Sewo will have. Big things are on the horizon.

Kenedy Snell

Kenedy Snell’s biggest feat last season was his game against SMU. Scoring twice and breaking off a 71-yard reception for a score marked the pinnacle of his year. While he was not a large factor the meaningful part of the season, I think the mere fact that he saw meaningful minutes speaks volumes to both his character and ability. As a freshman who had only been practicing for 3 weeks, Snell found his way in the rotation to see significant time. He is freaky fast and while not as big as his Waxahachie counter part Jalen Reagor, I expect Snell to have a significant role in the offense this season. I believe Snell will see most of his time at receiver, but expect him also to catch some time at running back as the like him to run sweeps from time to time.

Fabian Franklin

Ahh last and certainly not least, Fabian Franklin is the biggest question mark and potential catalyst this season. Franklin was a last minute find as he de-committed from Mississippi State when Dan Mullin left town for the Gators of Gainesville and found himself signing with the frogs in mid December. The four-star commit has a lot of upside. I would recommend watching his tape from high school. He is incredible strong and shifty. That deadly combination could allow him to provide and immediate impact this fall. While it is uncertain what his timetable is to report to campus, there has been no negative news about him since his commitment, which is a good sign. TCU has always enjoyed having a three-headed monster in the backfield and Gary mentioned at BIG 12 Media Days that you can never have enough strength at tailback. If Franklin reports in August and is healthy, we could see power in the backfield akin to the Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James era.

Suffice it to say, the backfield is one that is not cause for concern for the upcoming season. We have an embarrassment of riches at the position and if the other pieces of the puzzle start to fall into to place, this has the making of a very special season.