10 Most Explosive Running Backs in 2014 Recruiting Class

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IOctober 9, 2013

10 Most Explosive Running Backs in 2014 Recruiting Class

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    The 2014 recruiting class has a good crop of explosive running backs, as these runners have the ability to go from 0-60 in a flash. Having the quickness, explosiveness and burst to accelerate upfield with the ball are important traits to possess at the position.

    A one-gear running back can be effective, but he will not make many big plays. However, give an explosive running back the ball, and chances are fireworks are going to pop off. Long speed is nice to have, as running away from defenders in the open field is a sight to see. Yet pure explosiveness to surge to the end zone is more lethal.

    A pair of running backs from Miami are on this list, as they are the most explosive tandem in high school football. Plus, a big back from North Carolina runs with good power, but also has a great burst.

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals247Sports and ESPNU.

Joe Mixon

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    Joe Mixon is a 5-star running back who has the ability to blow through holes with a great burst. He's a tall runner at 6'2", but has a good-looking 195-pound frame.

    Mixon, who is from northern California, has great straight-line speed. He'll come downhill behind the line of scrimmage, quickly skate through traffic and emerge on the second level. Mixon, who's also a great receiver, has solid speed to get upfield to make big runs.

    He's expected to sign with California or Oklahoma, per 247Sports, but watch out for Wisconsin. 

Jalen Hurd

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    Watching Jalen Hurd on tape, it's easy to see why the 5-star prospect deserves to be on this list. At 6'3" and 220 pounds, he has excellent quickness to and through creases as a running back.

    Hurd, who is committed to Tennessee, does a great job of staying patient behind the line of scrimmage to let his blocks set up.

    When he sees defenders are occupied, he uses his great burst to press inside holes and quickly arrive on the second level, where Hurd shows solid elusiveness and the speed to race for long runs.


Traevohn Wrench

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    The headliner of Kansas' class, Traevohn Wrench is an explosive 4-star running back who could become a bell cow for head coach Charlie Weis.

    At 6'0" and 180 pounds, Wrench has the ability to shoot through alleys with acceleration. He can jump to the edges, flashes sudden movement skills and is elusive with the ball. However, Wrench can explode at the point of attack, as he possesses solid power.

    His quickness to and through holes, ability to jump on top of defenders in holes and speed to transfer upfield will lead to him making many big plays in Lawrence. 

Elijah Hood

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    A 4-star prospect, Elijah Hood is one of the most impressive running backs in the country. He is not just a heavy-footed runner whose main asset is straight-line power.

    Hood, who is nearly 6'0" and weighs 222 pounds, has explosive quickness. He shows an outstanding burst to skate to the second level and flashes a darting running style. Hood can accelerate quickly after cutting, rumble upfield and has the ability to split the safeties on the way to the end zone.

    A back this big and explosive should be able to make an immediate contribution in college. Hood is committed to North Carolina. 

D.K. Buford

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    D.K. Buford is a quicker-than-fast athlete who can also play receiver for an offense. However, his main position is running back, and he lights up defenses with quickness and speed.

    Buford, who is 5'10" and 190 pounds, displays a terrific surge with the ball to quickly arrive on the second level of the defense. He has elite short-area quickness, is hard to get a clean hit on and tires defenses out by the fourth quarter.

    The 4-star Ole Miss commit displays excellent stop-and-start quickness and is a threat to score anytime he touches the football. 

Racean Thomas

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    Auburn fans are going to love Racean Thomas, as the running back prospect has explosive ability. At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Thomas can fly through holes, and his burst is noticeable.

    A 5-star prospect, Thomas has the quickness to bounce to the edges, can turn the corner on defenses and shows just enough long speed to skate to the end zone. He has solid power and can also be a weapon in the passing game.

    With his solid size, Thomas' ability to make explosive plays could get him on the field early on The Plains. 

Sony Michel

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    At 5'11" and 205 pounds, Sony Michel is capable of running with various styles. He has the strength to work in short-yardage situations, push piles and break tackles.

    Yet the Georgia commit also has the explosiveness and quickness to slash around the box. Michel shows fantastic change-of-direction skills, as he's an agile runner who can explode out of his cuts. The 5-star running back can jump-cut, speed-cut and elude defenders in different situations.

    Finally, Michel has the speed to outrun defenses either around the corner or upfield. Look for him to be used on kickoff returns in Athens. 

Tony James

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    Tony James is a perfect fit for Oregon's spread offense, as his running style is based on his ability to launch upfield. He's a sudden athlete who has quick-twitch explosiveness with the ball in his hands.

    James, who is from Florida, is 5'10" and 170 pounds. He displays terrific shiftiness, can stop and start with ease and can quickly reach top speed within a few steps. James can jump to the edges, has the ability to dance around defenders and is lethal in space.

    The 4-star prospect will be a similar player to De'Anthony Thomas for the Ducks.

Dalvin Cook

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    A 5-star running back, Dalvin Cook is one of the most explosive running backs in recent memory. Also, his burst is far more smoother than other runners on this list.

    Cook runs with the forward lean of a sprinter, as he is one of the fastest players in the country. The Florida commit is capable of surging through holes, using subtle movements to elude defenders in tight spaces and exploding upfield to the goal line. 

    At 5'11" and 190 pounds, Cook flashes toughness, but his explosive acceleration is his best asset. 

Joseph Yearby

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    Cook's running mate at Miami Central High School is Joseph Yearby, a 4-star running back who is committed to Miami. Yearby also possesses exceptional quickness, as he has an impressive burst with the ball.

    Yearby launches north out of his cuts easily, is elusive and has great balance. The 5'9", 190-pounder is dangerous in space, but runs with the required toughness to hold up inside. Yearby's acceleration is noticeable on tape, as defenders routinely get jumped on top of on the second level.

    He'll make an explosive play or two during his tenure in Coral Gables.


Most Explosive Recruits

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    Some of the nation's most explosive running backs can be seen exploding on with the ball on this great video! Check it out!

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    Use the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map to locate more explosive running backs and many more talented recruits from around the nation!

    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 and Cleveland Browns.