Look at the Missouri depth chart and you will see former Arlington Bowie standout Russell Hansbrough listed as a backup tailback.
For anyone who watched Missouri’s 58-14 win against Murray State to start the 2013 season, however, Hansbrough looked more like another No. 1 option.
Hansbrough, a sophomore who played in nine games as a freshman, broke out for 104 yards and two touchdown on just eight carries.
“I have been talking all through practice and camp about Russell Hansbrough, and I have seen some glimpses he is going to be real good,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said to the media after his team’s win to start the season.
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Missouri starting tailback Henry Josey, a junior returning to the field after missing all of last season with a knee injury, picked up 113 yards on 13 carries, an impressive 8.7 yards a carry. Hansbrough had an average of 13 yards a carry. Together, they were electric.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Hansbrough said when a reporter asked how Missouri decides which running back to put in the game. “Sometimes we’ll be on the sideline fighting about who’s about to go in. All of the running backs want to see each other succeed and go out there and make big plays.”
Hansbrough was the spark for Missouri’s offense. He scored the Tigers’ first two touchdowns of the season, beginning with a 3-yard run to the left early in the first quarter. Then, after Murray State tied the game, Hansbrough juked a defender and broke free for a 51-yard score.
Missouri is trying to bounce back after finishing 5-7 last year in its first season as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Hansbrough and the Tigers (1-0) will take on Toledo (0-1) on Saturday.