Texas Football: CJ Baxter Jr. taking first-team RB practice reps this week

CJ Baxter Jr., Texas football
CJ Baxter Jr., Texas football /

Running back was a notable position battle for Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian heading into fall camp. Texas looked to replace standout running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson amid a loaded backfield of talented but mostly young and inexperienced backs.

The two running backs that emerged as the top duo for the Longhorns coming out of fall camp were true freshman CJ Baxter Jr. and redshirt sophomore Jonathon Brooks. Heading into the season, Brooks was figured to be the starting running back, with Baxter also set to get a significant workload out of the backfield.

The tides appear to be shifting a couple of days ahead of the regular season opener for the Longhorns, though. It sounds like Baxter could have ascended past Brooks on the running back depth chart in practice this week.

Texas football freshman RB CJ Baxter Jr. still pushing for starting job heading into the season

Multiple reports indicate that Baxter has taken the first-team practice reps at running back this week, leading up to the Sep. 2 opener at home against the Rice Owls. Inside Texas reported on Aug. 31 (paid content) that Baxter “has taken first-team reps this week in practice”.

But it’s worth noting that this IT report stated they don’t know if Baxter is the “only running back to receiver first-team reps this week” in practice.

CJ Vogel of TFB Texas also reported on Aug. 31 that Baxter received first-team practice reps at running back this week. Vogel’s report indicated that Brooks will be the feature back out of the gates on Sep. 2 against Rice. But Baxter, along with Brooks, will reportedly get a heavy helping of carries out of the backfield this weekend.

Baxter has momentum in the RB room heading into the season

Hands down, Baxter is the running back with the most momentum heading into the season. He had a solid camp and has solidified his spot as one of the top two backs for the Longhorns this fall.

If Baxter keeps trending up the way he has in the last few weeks, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he will grab a firm hold of the starting running back job heading into or during Big 12 play.

The nation’s No. 1 running back recruit in the 2023 class in the 247Sports Composite and On3 Industry Ranking is poised for a big true freshman campaign for the Longhorns. Baxter gives Sark the traditional “bellcow” running back that the third-year Texas head coach loves utilizing in the zone ground game to set the tone on offense.

Texas opens the season at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Sep. 2 against Rice, with the kickoff time set for 2:30 p.m. CT.

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