2. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
Just like their in-state rival, Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State squad will have a change under center this year. Mason Rudolph is gone, along with his top two pass catchers from last year (James Washington, Marcell Ateman). Fifth-year senior Taylor Cornelius is the current front-runner to replace Rudolph, but Hawaii grad transfer Dru Brown and true freshman Spencer Sanders will enter the competition in fall camp.
Hill led the Big 12 with 1,467 rushing yards and 15 rushing scores last year, on 268 carries (11th in the country). He had 15 or fewer carries in each of the first three games last year, and in four of the first six, which can be blamed on the Cowboys’ margin of victory in non-conference games and against feeble conference foe Baylor. But through the teeth of the schedule, from Sept. 23 through Nov. 18, Hill had at least 23 carries in six of eight games with over 100 yards on the ground six times during that stretch.
Hill ended last year with a touchdown in six straight games (10 total), with 717 rushing yards (5.6 yards per carry) over that span. The FBS co-leaders in carries last year, with 301, were Devin Singletary and Phillip Lindsay with A.J. Dillon one behind. Hill would have needed to average just three more carries per game to hit 306 carries last year, so he’s an easy candidate to lead the country in carries this year. As the centerpiece of what should be a good Cowboys’ offense, but one with question marks in the passing game until further notice, Hill is a legit Heisman Trophy dark horse.