Stanford's talented group of backup running backs has been largely been overshadowed by its immensely productive starter, senior Stepfan Taylor. But with Taylor off to the NFL next year, the other backs on Stanford's roster will soon have an opportunity to shine.
One of the frontrunners to win the starting spot in 2013 is junior Anthony Wilkerson. Though he was hobbled with injuries at times this year, Wilkerson did gain 193 yards this year (4.3 YPC average), bringing his career total to 883 yards.
Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Wilkerson after Saturday's Rose Bowl practice to discuss the season, the Wildcat formation, and returning to his native Southern California for the Rose Bowl.
Cardinal Sports Report: I wanted to first ask you about your health. When did you get first get hurt and, what's it been like throughout the year?
Anthony Wilkerson: Just having ups and downs health wise all season, but I got hurt against USC, just hurt my leg. That kept me out for a while. And then getting back, just little stuff, little nicks and knacks, nothing too serious. But things that can hamper.
CSR: I imagine it has been frustrating?
AW: Definitely. Definitely frustrating, but you have to bounce back and it's all about how you respond.
CSR: Tell me about how the Wildcat role for you came about. Last year Gaffney ran that, but that's kind of been your thing this season.
AW: Yeah. Gaff left so there was a void to fill there and since Stepfan gets the majority of the carries they gave me the Wildcat. I just see what I can do with that, hopefully it goes for touchdowns. It's going alright.
CSR: Do you like the Wildcat? Is it something where it's a little bit more interesting than just running out of a normal set?
AW: Yeah, I mean it's interesting. It's done alright this year, but I guess what I like about it is that sometimes you feel like you're in control, you feel like you're the quarterback. Kill it to whatever play you can.
CSR: With Stepfan leaving, it's kind of anybody's guess who will be the starter next year. How do you view that competition?
AW: There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good backs. Coach Shaw and the rest of the recruiters bring in backs every year. With Remound, with Ricky, with Barry, there's going to be a lot of competition next year to get that starting spot.
CSR: What is your main focus for bowl practice and spring practice. Is there one main thing or are you just making sure you're healthy and doing what you've been doing?
AW: Health is always a good thing and I'm just getting better every day. Learning the offense more and more. I know it really well since I've been here three years but just being able to learn the offense back and forth is good.
CSR: Is there one primary thing you'd like to work on the most?
AW: Pass protection I can always get better at. Slowing down my runs, reading out holes the right way is something I can work on too, so maybe those two things.
CSR: How has the offense for the running backs been different since Kevin Hogan took over, or is there really no difference for you guys?
AW: It's a little different. Hogan scrambles a little more than Josh does so we kind of have to adjust our angles and the way we block when linebackers are running this way we have to adjust this way, if he's doing that, but other than that it's not really much of a difference.
CSR: Going down to the Rose Bowl, I know Stanford and UCLA were probably the two schools you were considering the most during your recruiting. Is there a little something extra beating them to get down there?
AW: It's cool. It's good that I'm going close to home again. That's awesome. The Rose Bowl is always a fun place to go, so I'm just going to enjoy the moment and enjoy being close to home.
CSR: Is the Rose Bowl a game you grew up watching down in Southern California?
AW: Somewhat. I grew up watching USC and UCLA a lot.
CSR: How many family, friends, buddies do you anticipate having down there?
AW: It's probably going to be like 25 but I don't know if I can get tickets for all of them.