The 2014 recruiting class is loaded with exceptional running backs who appear capable of carrying the load in the future for college football programs. The leap from high school to collegiate competition is challenging regardless of position, and the role of a running back is drastically altered at the next level.
In order to see significant playing time, backs must be able to block passes, identify pre-snap gap adjustments and eliminate any shred of hesitation when approaching the line of scrimmage. The days of relying on speed and jukes are over.
An abundance of freshman backs will fill team rosters throughout the nation next season. Some will arrive on campus as instant celebrities, embraced by the school they selected from long lists of options after highly publicized nationwide recruitment processes.
Others have a longer road to recognition but remain ready to step up despite immense expectations. We take a look at ball-carriers who are primed to surprise in college and are capable of stealing the national spotlight from more heralded high school prospects.