College Football Predictions: Underclassman RBs That Will Run over Opponents
So often, teams rely on older players to provide guidance and inspiration to their up-and-coming underclassmen.
However, we occasionally see a freshman or sophomore step up to take the bull by the horns and produce some magical moments.
These are the special players.
They are the ones who will likely go on to not only to have successful careers with their schools, but also in the NFL.
With the return of college football less than two months away, it's time to take a look at some of the young RBs who will dominate in 2012-2013.
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North Carolina's Giovani Bernard lit up the ACC in his inaugural season and is poised to make an even bigger splash this time around.
The elusive 5'10", 205-lb Tar Heel rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns—only eclipsed by Miami's Lamar Miller and Virginia Tech's David Wilson (both NFL-bound).
Going into his sophomore year, he will look to make that No. 1 spot his own.
Bernard's stocky frame and fluid motions allow him to bounce off would-be tacklers and push for extra yards.
Any time the ball is in his hands, there feels like the real possibility of a big play.
His field vision and patience forces defenders to second-guess themselves. More often than not, he finds the open gap to make them pay.
Although UNC doesn't look too deep overall, a constant threat at RB should allow them to give any team a run for their money.
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The Ducks can count themselves lucky to have the services of returning sophomore De'Anthony Thomas.
For the longest time, it looked like a formality that Thomas would become a Trojan and remain near his hometown of Crenshaw.
All that changed on signing day, when "Black Mamba" shocked onlookers by snubbing USC in favor of a move up to Eugene, Oregon.
From that day on, he hasn't looked back.
In an astonishing true freshman season with the Ducks, Thomas became widely recognized as one of the most versatile RBs in the nation, and he certainly has the numbers to prove it.
He rushed for 595 yards, received 46 passes for 605 yards and racked up a total of 18 touchdowns.
If Thomas can bulk up a bit while still maintaining his lightning-quick pace, he will surely increase those numbers, giving Oregon one of the most potent offenses in college football.
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This guy didn't get the recognition he deserved after a promising freshman year at the University of Virginia.
At 5'8" and 195 lbs, Kevin Parks is small in football terms, but his aggression and ability to slip out of tight spots makes him one of the top RBs in the country.
Sitting behind senior Perry Jones in Virginia's pecking order, Parks only touched the ball 163 times in all of 2011. Despite that, he rushed for 709 yards and broke the plane on 10 different occasions.
With those kinds of numbers, it's hard to see head coach Mike London keeping him from making an even bigger impact in 2012.
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Crowell truly could have been great, until his disciplinary problems caught up with him.
The Georgia Bulldogs had themselves a future star in RB Isaiah Crowell.
In his freshman season, the Georgia native rushed for 850 yards and five touchdowns (sixth in the SEC), showing us that any hype surrounding him in high school was no joke.
The 19-year-old was rated the No. 3 RB for his class by NFLDraftScout.com and had all the makings of a future Heisman candidate.
It is unfortunate to see that all his promise has been put to waste.
I sincerely hope, for the spectacle of football, that head coach Mark Richt considers giving Crowell another chance (if he isn't in jail).