The Texas Longhorns have a crowded backfield once again.
Tailback Malcolm Brown is expected to play against Iowa State on Saturday after missing the last five games with a sprained left ankle. He has not played since suffering the injury in the first half at Oklahoma State on Sept. 29. No. 19 Texas (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) is 3-2 without Brown.
The sophomore was listed as probable for last Saturday's 31-22 win at Texas Tech, but the coaching staff decided to hold him out of the game.
"Malcolm was ready to play. He just had not practiced very much," Coach Mack Brown said. "We decided we would not play him unless we needed him to win the game. We wanted to make him have a week where he had full practice, full speed. I really think he will be ready to go this week."
Now, co-offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite will have to devise a plan to divide carries between Brown, leading-rusher Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Gray and Daje Johnson.
Brown rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns at Mississippi on Sept. 15, his last full game. He led UT in rushing as a freshman in 2011 with 742 yards.
"He brings another dimension," Harsin said. "He's big, he's powerful, he's fast. He's got the ability to really do it all. He's one of our best pass protectors. We'll get him back in the mix. We'll have some things dialed up for him."
Gray has blossomed in Brown's absence, rushing for over 100 yards in each of the last two games. The former Aledo High School star is atop the depth chart after starting the season behind both Brown and Bergeron. While Brown's return could mean fewer touches for Gray, the freshman still wants to see his teammate back on the field.
"It's very exciting," Gray said. "In the running backs room, we're all brothers. So, you always want your brothers with you in the war or battle. We're glad that Malcolm is back."
Brown missed three games last year due to injury. Texas went 1-2 in those games.
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram