Running back recruits need to have good receiving skills today since more teams run the spread offense. The traditional bell-cow running back now needs to be able to routinely threaten defenses as a receiver on passing downs.
Possessing great hands, solid hand-eye coordination, ball skills, speed and quickness are the top traits a running back needs in order to make an impact in the passing game.
The 2014 class has several running backs who also display good receiving skills.
A 4-star prospect from North Carolina, Derrell Scott does not need to be removed from the field on third downs. He has great quickness, which allows him to make plays from the backfield and in the slot.
Scott, who is 5'11" and 180 pounds, can separate from linebackers in a flash. He has good ball skills to pluck passes with his mitts, plus he has a quick upfield transfer after the catch that allows him to make big plays.
Scott is expected to sign with South Carolina, according to 247Sports.
Varshaun Nixon is a perfect fit for Texas A&M's spread offense. He is a 4-star running back with tremendous receiving skills who can also do damage from the slot.
At 5'9" and 185 pounds, Nixon likely will not be an every-down back. However, his speed and quickness will allow the Aggies to exploit mismatches on linebackers and safeties on crucial downs. Nixon also displays the ability to sharply cut out of his breaks to separate from stiff cornerbacks.
Expect him to also be lethal on swing routes and screens.
The receiving skills of 4-star running back D.K. Buford are so good that it would not be surprising if he plays receiver at Ole Miss.
Buford, who is 5'10" and 190 pounds, has exceptional quickness. He is a sudden athlete who can shoot away from defenders out of his breaks to create separation. Buford has good hands, evidenced by his ability to attack the football with his mitts, plus he displays an outstanding upfield burst after the catch.
Whether it's from the slot or out of the backfield, Buford will make several big plays in the Rebels' passing game before he leaves Oxford.
There is an outside chance that Tennessee uses 5-star athlete Jalen Hurd as a receiver. He is 6'3" and 220 pounds, plus he has great speed.
Hurd, who shows excellent acceleration through alleys from the backfield, has experience working on the perimeter. With his ability to easily make speed cuts, Hurd could be terrific on deep-in routes, comebacks and posts.
He has great hands, tracks the ball well with his eyes and his running back skills come back into play after each catch.
Anyone who thinks 5-star recruit Leonard Fournette is just a power runner needs to watch him play. The 6'1", 226-pound running back is a great weapon in the passing game.
Fournette has the ability to motion to the slot or perimeter, use his speed to surge upfield and catch passes like a receiver. He may not become a great route-runner, but the New Orleans native is capable of effectively running basic patterns to get himself open. He's an all-around talent who has wonderful receiving skills.
Do not be shocked when several of Fournette's touchdowns in college come from him catching the football.
Racean Thomas is committed to Auburn where he will be a seamless fit.
Head coach Gus Malzahn runs a spread offense, so any running back who plays for the Tigers needs to be able to catch the ball.
At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Thomas displays great ball skills. Aside from being used on screens and as a check-down option, he can run option routes versus linebackers. Thomas' quickness and explosiveness allows him to separate from defenders, plus he has natural instincts as a runner after the catch.
Sony Michel is a 5-star running back who is as complete a prospect as there is in the country. The Florida native has great speed, quickness and hands.
Michel's versatility can allow an offense to align in an empty-back set, with him still on the field. At 5'11" and 205 pounds, Michel can effectively run routes like a receiver. He shows good quickness to dart away from defenders at junctions, has natural receiving skills and is dangerous after the catch.
He will be able to do damage on all three downs while at Georgia.
At 6'2" and 195 pounds, 5-star running back Joe Mixon looks like a receiver at first glance. He has a long frame, plus he possesses great straight-line speed.
Although he is great in the backfield, Mixon is equally dangerous on the perimeter. He uses his size and strength well to release versus press-coverage, and he knows how to use his explosiveness to get open downfield. Mixon is comfortable running many different routes, plus he is confident in his ball skills.
He displays good solid instincts and elusiveness after the catch.
Many of the top running backs with the best receiving skills can be found on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map! This is a neat interactive resource with great information on the nation's best prospects!