STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Tyreek Hill's dismissal from the Oklahoma State program left the Cowboys without their best playmaker. Thanks to newcomers Chris Carson and Jeff Carr, there might not be a drop off.
Carson is just what Oklahoma State needed after Hill was kicked off the team following a domestic violence incident last December.
Carson has been voted the Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year, the same honor Hill received a year earlier. Carson was one of the nation's top junior college recruits after rushing for 994 yards and catching 12 passes last season at Butler (Kansas) Community College. In addition to offering breakaway speed and an impressive physical presence, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound back brings other skills and intangibles.
''I think he's tough,'' Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. ''Understands ball security. He understands our schemes - he's assignment sound. He has good vision, good discipline, and he can catch the ball a little bit. I think he's a well-rounded back.''
Carr, a 5-7, 168-pound speedster, ran for at least 1,600 yards each of his last three high school seasons. He's practiced so well that coach Mike Gundy is strongly considering not redshirting the true freshman.
''I think most people thought, with his size that he would be guy that would redshirt,'' Gundy said. ''If he's able to absorb information, function out there with the team, stay healthy and give you the ability to make a big play, then you have to look at putting him out there.
Yurcich said Carr, who is in the mix to return kicks, is explosive in the open field.
''He's a space guy,'' Yurcich said. ''He's got a lot of wiggle, got great change of direction, so he fits in our offense very well. He's got good hands, so he's a very versatile back. He's a spread guy that fits what we do very well. He's fun to watch with good ball skills and a great temperament, and he's got that toughness, so he's got a little bit of an edge.''
The top returning running back, Rennie Childs, ran for 83 yards and a touchdown in the Spring Game. Gundy said Carson and Carr will be good for Childs and they will keep him fresh. Raymond Taylor, who ran for 70 yards on 18 carries last season, also is in the mix.
Hill ran for 534 yards and a touchdown, caught 31 passes for 281 yards and had 740 kickoff return yards and 256 punt return yards last season on his way to all-conference honors. His 996 combined return yards ranked second in the nation, and he was 11th nationally in all-purpose yards per game. He returned a kickoff 92 yards in the final minute against Oklahoma to tie the score in a game the Cowboys won in overtime.
Gundy wants more from the running game this season. Hill averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season, but the rest of the team averaged 3.1, for an overall team average of just 3.5.
''The number of times we run the ball, if it's (average per carry) up around five, we're going to be successful,'' Gundy said. ''In most cases, and with the balance of our offense, we'll have a guy, or guys, that will combine to rush up there around that number.''
Gundy wants several players ready to share the responsibility of increasing that number, and he believes he has the players to do it.
''That's what we've done here in the years when we've been really good, and something we need to accomplish this season,'' he said.
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