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Tyler Gaffney returning to Stanford to play football: What does this mean for the running backs?

Ya dig?

Ezra Shaw

It took a few days after signing day, but Stanford football scored another big commitment on Monday - Tyler Gaffney is coming back to the Farm.

After a year of playing baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization (he spent his time with the Single-A State College Spikes), he's decided to give up on countless bus rides through Pennsylvania to come back to a top-tier football team.

Seems like a good decision to me.

Assuming he's still in football shape - and he should be by the time the season rolls around - Gaffney's a strong, versatile player who will instantly add more depth to the backfield. He rushed for 449 yards and seven touchdowns his junior season. He's always been a shifty runner, a guy the coaches trusted to run the wildcat, and a sure pass-catcher. (See the touchdown below at 9:35.)

Naturally, head coach David Shaw was pleased to have one of his runners back.

"I'm very proud of Tyler Gaffney making the decision to come back and finish his degree, while also rejoining the football team," Shaw said. "Tyler's first three years at Stanford, he contributed to a lot of big games and a lot of big wins. He will join a talented and diverse group of running backs, which as a unit we believe is as good as any in the nation."

Gaffney's return does mean that Shaw and his crew of coaches will have a challenge ahead of them - organizing this backfield will be a challenge.

Stepfan Taylor is gone, and in his place will be a gang that includes Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson, Ricky Seale, Jackson Cummings, Remound Wright, Kelsey Young and Barry J. Sanders.

What to do?

Right now, if I had to guess, I think Wilkerson will be the starter - he's perhaps the most well-rounded back and the one the coaches trust in the Wildcat formation - Gaffney will return to his spot as the 3rd down back, and Young will be the change-of-pace back.

However, this crowd of backs - and the lack of wide receivers - might mean that Young moves out wide for good, giving Sanders and the others the chance to run the ball more often. (Really, we all just want to see young Sanders spin.)

Gaffney's return may make the running back competition the most interesting storyline at Stanford's spring practice and spring game - and the first session opens February 25th, just two weeks from today.

But the best news about Gaffney's announcement might be this: suddenly, football season doesn't seem all that far away.