Skip to main content

Commentary: Why Marcus Major Looks Like Oklahoma's Next Great Running Back

The fourth-year junior from Oklahoma City has been impressive so far in preseason training camp, combining speed and power with a low center of gravity.

NORMAN — Through one week of preseason camp and parts of three open practices, one thing is apparent in the Oklahoma offense.

The Sooners are not hurting for talent at running back.

Kennedy Brooks had a chance to come back in 2022 — he could have been the first player in school history with four 1,000-yard seasons — and he’ll be missed as he forges his way in the NFL.

But while Brooks left as one of the most productive players in school history and provided plenty of unforgettable moments in a Sooner uniform, those vying to replace him are — physically, at least — up to the task.

While former Tennessee transfer Eric Gray stands to inherit the early snaps as RB1, don’t be surprised if a career backup emerges as the team’s best ballcarrier over the course of the season.

During brief practice observations so far, fourth-year junior Marcus Major has the look of Oklahoma’s next 1,000-yard back.

The 6-foot, 219-pound Major has had his ups and downs so far since arriving from Millwood High School in Oklahoma City, including an academic eligibility snafu that cost him half of last season. But judging by his early returns in camp this year, his last two bowl performances — 110 yards and a touchdown against Florida, 54 yards against Oregon — were absolutely no fluke.

“Marcus had a really good offseason,” said running backs coach DeMarco Murray. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

Major has looked the part so far in practice: powerful, decisive and fast. He’s elusive enough at the point of contact, shifting angles with suddenness to allow him to avoid big hits. From there, arm tackles don’t affect his trajectory much; he combines raw strength and power with a low center of gravity and natural lean that let him slice through the grabs.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

“You’re talking about a guy who’s extremely fresh,” Murray said. “Hasn’t gotten a bunch of game reps, but has a lot of practice reps.

“Still a very sort of young player, young guy. We’re expecting big things out of Marcus Major, and he’s put himself in a great situation to go in and compete. He’s done a really good job picking up the offense and working his tail off every day.”

What impresses other OU running backs most about Major?

“His strength,” Gray said. “He’s a very powerful runner. His speed to size is a great ratio, being as strong as he is but also as fast as he is. He’s definitely doing a great job.

“It’s probably a little natural, but he definitely works hard in the weight room, so I would say the weight room as well.”

But Major isn’t just a squatty power back.

“I would definitely say he’s a versatile runner,” Gray said. “Runs hard but also catches passes out of the backfield.”

Gray draws praise for his ability to learn the offense and diagnose the defense and catch passes and make tacklers miss at top speed. Gray owns the job now because of his experience and the one thing that Major hasn’t had a chance to develop yet: consistency.

“Marcus, it’s all about consistency for him,” Lebby said. “Everybody understands when he’s gotten opportunities, he’s done a really good job. Excited about where he’s at. He had a good summer.”