Big Ten Football: 10 Fastest RBs in the Conference
The Big Ten Conference featured several outstanding running backs in 2013, and many of them will be back for next season.
The league isn't known for its speed, but it still boasts a bevy of quick backs.
Reigning conference champion Michigan State claims one of the conference's fastest backs, Jeremy Langford, but is the speediest of the bunch?
Will that title go to Purdue's Akeem Hunt, Northwestern's Venric Mark or one of Ohio State's speedy youngsters?
Click on to find out.
Note: Rankings based on available reported 40-yard dash times, compiled from various sources.
10. Corey Clement, Wisconsin
40-yard dash: 4.49
Corey Clement was very effective as the No. 3 running back in the Wisconsin offense last season.
After opposing defenses were worn down by Melvin Gordon and James White, Clement would come on with fresh legs ready to burst.
From third-string, he took 67 carries for 547 yards and seven touchdowns.
This year, he'll take his 4.49-second 40-yard dash into a second-string role behind Gordon now that White is gone.
9. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
40-yard dash (recent): 4.49
40-yard dash (2011): 4.38
Ameer Abdullah led the Big Ten with 1,690 yards last season because of his impressive blend of speed and power.
As a freshman, he was credited with a 4.38-second 40 time, by Eric Olson of the Associated Press, which would make him No. 6 on this list. However, most recently, NFL.com's Mike Huguenin tabbed him at 4.49.
Either way, Abdullah is one of the Big Ten's fastest, and arguably its best running back.
He will be back for his senior season.
8. Josh Ferguson, Illinois
40-yard dash: 4.41
Illinois struggled to win consistently last year, but its offense had little issue scoring points.
Josh Ferguson was a big part of that, rushing 141 times for 779 yards and seven touchdowns. He was credited with a 4.41-second 40 time coming out of high school by Scout.com.
The speedy Illini back will take on even more responsibility next year with the departure of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
7. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
40-yard dash: 4.40
Ohio State will lose its top two running backs, Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall, but the Buckeyes will still have a promising running game with two of the fastest running backs in the Big Ten.
Ezekiel Elliott didn't garner too much time as a freshman, though he still tallied 262 yards and two scores off of 30 carries.
He exploded for 162 of those yards and both touchdowns on 14 carries against Florida A&M.
It could be a big year for Elliott now that he will move into a more prominent role.
6. Akeel Lynch, Penn State
40-yard dash: 4.4
Akeel Lynch hasn't had a lot of opportunities to show off his speed in the Penn State backfield just yet, but his time will come.
He spent 2013 as the third-string back behind Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton, and that's where he'll likely be in 2014.
However, Lynch will still provide a nice complement to the more powerful duo in front of him.
5. Venric Mark, Northwestern
40-yard dash: 4.35
Northwestern didn't quite match its hopes for last season, and the absence of Venric Mark was a big reason why.
Mark was a major part of the NU offense and return game and attempted to fight through minor injuries early in the season. However, he then suffered a broken ankle in October against Wisconsin, sidelining him for the rest of the year.
He ran for just 97 yards in 2013 but has racked up 4,271 all-purpose yards in his career.
If he keeps the speed he had before the injury, the Wildcats will be in good shape next year.
4. Jordan Canzeri, Iowa
40-yard dash: 4.33
One of the lesser-known home run hitters in the Big Ten, Iowa's Jordan Canzeri has plenty of speed to burn.
The 5'9", 182-pound back has less than 600 career yards but began to take on a bigger role in the Iowa backfield last season.
He has to share time with Damon Bullock and Mark Weisman, which has actually worked out well for the Troy, N.Y., native.
He ran for 165 yards and a touchdown in a win over Purdue and churned out a 37-yard scamper against Nebraska that set up a fourth-quarter touchdown.
3. Dontre Wilson, Ohio State
40-yard dash: 4.33
After a relatively quiet freshman campaign, Ohio State's Dontre Wilson is poised for a breakout sophomore season.
Wilson, who plays a hybrid role for the Buckeyes, was clocked at a 4.33-second 40 according to Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer.
He was fourth on the team with 983 all-purpose yards in 2013: 523 yards returning kicks, 250 rushing and 210 receiving.
With holes opening in the OSU backfield, Wilson could be an even bigger producer in 2014.
2. Akeem Hunt, Purdue
40-yard dash: 4.31
Akeem Hunt was the go-to playmaker in the Purdue offense last season, and he'll be that again next year as the Boilermakers look to improve on their 1-11 record.
Hunt led Purdue in all-purpose yardage last year, tallying 1,430 yards between rushing, receiving and returning kicks.
He relies on his elite speed to do the job. ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg reported that he runs a 4.31-second 40-yard dash.
At 5'9", 184 pounds, Hunt is one of the fastest and most versatile players not just in the Big Ten, but in all of college football.
1. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
40-yard dash: 4.3
Michigan State coaches fought over the services of running back Jeremy Langford after he clocked a 4.3-second 40-yard dash in 2012, as detailed by Graham Couch of MLive.com.
He settled in at running back and blossomed in a big way in 2013.
The Wayne, Mich., native tallied 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns, playing a major part in MSU's Big Ten title and Rose Bowl run.
He'll be back to anchor the Spartans offense in 2014.
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