A way-too-early ranking of the top 10 Big 12 running backs ahead of 2024 season

Where does Tahj Brooks rank in the Big 12 running back hierarchy as we look toward the 2024 football season?
Texas Tech's running back Tahj Brooks (28) runs for a touchdown against TCU in a Big 12 football
Texas Tech's running back Tahj Brooks (28) runs for a touchdown against TCU in a Big 12 football / Annie Rice/Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY
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There once was a time, not long ago, when the Big 12 treated running the football like a punishment. Texas Tech fans, obviously, had a front-row seat for that era thanks to Mike Leach. However, the league that made airing the football out a way of life is undergoing a running game renaissance.

Long gone are the days of Big 12 teams trying to win games 70-63 as West Virginia beat Baylor in 2012 or 66-59 as was the case in the classic 2016 shootout between Oklahoma and Texas Tech in Lubbock.

Sure, the Big 12 will still produce high-scoring games from time to time and the league is far from becoming the second coming of the 1990s Big Ten. However, running the ball is cool again in the conference that once turned its back almost completely on the ground and pound way of moving the chains.

Therefore, there are quite a few excellent running backs set to suit up in this conference in 2024. Here's our count down of the top 10.

Running backs. . RB. Sophomore. 10. player. . Abu Sama III. Abu Sama III. 461

Abu Sama III is one of the more intriguing players in the conference this year, even if he isn't yet a household name. Last year, he ran for 614 yards and six TDs while averaging a whopping 7.3 yards per carry despite being just a true freshman.

Those numbers came with Sama being primarily a backup. In fact, he started only the final two games of the year. However, when he was given the opportunity to be the primary rusher for the Cyclones, he made quite the impression.

Against Kansas State, in his first career start, Sama rushed for 276 yards, the fourth-most in a game, most in a road game, and most-ever by a freshman in Iowa State history. That day, he broke off runs of 77, 71, and 60 yards, making him the second FBS player since 1996 with three or more rushing touchdowns of 60-plus yards against a ranked opponent, the first Big 12 player to have two 70-plus yard rushing touchdowns in a game since Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma) in 2005, and the first player in school history (dating back to 1971) with three rushing TDs of 50 yards or more in a single game (according to Cyclones.com)

Keep an eye on Sama this year. He could be the breakout RB of the conference if his big-play abilities translate to being a starter for the full season.