Power Ranking Best RB Recruiting Classes of Last Decade

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMarch 12, 2013

Power Ranking Best RB Recruiting Classes of Last Decade

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    A hot topic of discussion in football circles today is the value of the running back position. In years past, teams had one workhorse running back and fed him the ball 25 to 30 times a games week in and week out. The running back also was expected to contribute as pass-blocker in picking up the blitz, as well as catching a couple passes.

    The way offenses operate today, that type of RB is a thing of the past.

    Today, running backs are not as highly valued. Most work in two-back systems as specialized runners. That is why, especially in the recent years, you've seen programs load up on RBs in recruiting (cough-Alabama-cough).

    With programs bringing in multiple stud runners of late, we've seen some good RB recruiting classes assembled. This slideshow will take a look and rank the top RB recruiting classes over the past decade of recruiting (2004-2013).

9. Alabama in 2013

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    Running Backs: Derrick Henry, Altee Tenpenny, Alvin Kamara and Tyren Jones

    The only reason this group is ranked here is because none of them have gained a college yard yet. However, on paper, this is an amazing class of RB prospects.

    Henry is the biggest, Kamara is the quickest, Tenpenny may be the fastest and Jones probably has the best balance. All four of these guys could have gone somewhere else and contributed as true freshmen on their own. 

8. USC in 2010

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    Running Backs: Dillon Baxter, DJ Morgan, Soma Vainuku

    This crew was led by Baxter's hype in 2010, which proved to be unwarranted.

    Baxter made a highlight-reel run in the spring of his freshman year, but he had an underwhelming freshman year and was pretty much kicked off the team for several off-field issues.

    Morgan has flashed talent when he's been in games, but he's also struggled with fumbling issues and injuries. Vainuku is currently starting at FB. 

7. USC in 2007

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    Running Backs: Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler and Broderick Green

    McKnight got labeled "Reggie Bush 2.0" and spent most of his career trying to live up to that hype.

    He was so-so at USC, finishing with 2,213 yards and 13 TDs, along with 66 catches, 542 yards and two TDs receiving in his career.

    Tyler fought injuries early in his career and almost got moved to LB when Lane Kiffin took over. Green never got settled in in Los Angeles and transferred back to Arkansas after his freshman year, where he ran for a career mark of 1,067 yards and 19 TDs. 

6. USC in 2006

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    Running Backs: Stafon Johnson, Stanley Havili, Emmanuel Moody and Kenny Ashley

    Johnson was the most hyped out of the four backs but spent time in the dog house and suffered a nasty freak injury. He ran for 1,552 yards and 19 TDs in his career.

    Moody transferred after his freshman season, which surprised many. Ashley never really made an impact for several reason.

    Yet Havili went on to become a multi-year starter and pillar player for the Trojans. His services as a dynamic FB who could run, catch and block were key for the USC offense during his tenure. 

5. Georgia in 2012

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    Running Backs: Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley

    These two are just going to be true sophomores, but boy did UGA hit the jackpot when it signed these two in 2012. Marshall ran for 759 yards and eight TDs while catching 11 passes for another 91 yards and a score.

    Gurley, who was the lower rated recruit of the two, busted out 1,385 yards and 17 TDs on the ground while adding 16 catches and 117 yards receiving.

    They enter this 2013 season as two of the best RBs in the country.

4. Notre Dame in 2009

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    Running Backs: Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick

    Both of these two backs played instrumental roles that helped Notre Dame reach the BCS title game in 2012.

    Riddick spent time as both a RB and WR, finishing his career with 1,169 yards and five TDs rushing and 120 catches, 1,263 yards and eight scores as a receiver.

    Wood ran for 2,447 yards in his Irish career while adding 16 TDs. The Irish got great value and production with both of these RBs. 

3. California 2007

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    Running Backs: Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen

    These two were a flat-out lethal combination during their stay in Berkeley. Both had excellent speed, explosiveness, vision and big-play ability.

    Best finished his Bear career with 2,668 rushing yards and 35 career TDs. He was a first-round pick for the Lions, but concussion problems have derailed his promising career.

    Vereen ran for 2,834 yards and 29 rushing TDs in his career and has become one of Tom Brady's favorite targets out of the backfield in New England. 

2. Arkansas in 2005

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    Running Backs: Darren McFadden and Felix Jones

    Before Best and Vereen were terrorizing Pac-10 defenses, Jones and McFadden were putting in work versus SEC clubs.

    McFadden was the bigger and more heralded recruit who went on the contend for the Heisman twice and was a top-five pick to the Raiders.

    Jones also became a first-round pick to the Cowboys after running for 2,956 yards and scoring 23 career TDs. 

1. Alabama in 2009

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    Running Backs: Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy

    Richardson was electric during his days in Tuscaloosa and helped Alabama win two BCS titles before leaving as a top-five pick to the Browns in 2012.

    Lacy could be a first-round pick this year and also played a big role in 'Bama winning another BCS title. These two came in together in 2009, both have championship rings, both were productive as No. 1 starters and in April, we could also be saying both were first-round picks.


    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.