Non-QBs Who Will Score the Most Touchdowns in 2014 College Football Season
Touchdowns aren't always the best barometer of success, but they are a decent correlative point. One mustn't score a lot, necessarily, to be considered among the best offensive players in the nation, but it certainly does not hurt.
With regard to football statistics, passing touchdowns are not considered "scoring." Only the player who takes the ball into the end zone is credited with the points—or, in the case of a field goal, the player who kicked it through the uprights.
This list discounts the quarterbacks entirely.
Players such as Taysom Hill at BYU and Keenan Reynolds at Navy could well lead the nation in rushing touchdowns, but this list sought to find players at other positions—the not-as-glamorous ones—who will reach the end zone with consistency.
Some have proven they can do so in previous seasons, while others are in store for a bigger workload and have a good situation around them. But all of them, if healthy, are a safe bet to score some points.
Chime in below with who I missed.
RB Tra Carson, Texas A&M
Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee made the case for Tra Carson earlier this week, arguing that he is one of the most underrated players in the SEC. Sufficient to say I concur.
He is the boomer in Texas A&M's lineup, checking in at 6'0", 230 pounds. But he is also surprisingly limber. He scored seven touchdowns on just 62 carries last season, and with the departures of Johnny Manziel and Ben Malena, that number only stands to increase.
Even though he'll split time with Trey Williams, Carson will be running behind one of the best offensive lines in college football. The Aggies lose Jake Matthews but return the other four starters from a unit that finished third in adjusted line yards (run-blocking) last season.
He's a safe bet to see the end zone frequently.
RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana
If you're surprised by this inclusion, that means Tevin Coleman is the best running back you've never heard of. If you're not, that means you've spent some time watching Coleman play.
Coleman was one of the best running backs in college football last season—when healthy. He missed the last three games after hurting his ankle but still finished with 12 touchdowns on the ground.
In the game that produced his injury, at Illinois, Coleman had 15 carries for 215 yards and a score. He was the only player to record a 60-yard run against Michigan State, scoring from 64 yards out.
Especially sans Cody Latimer, Indiana will count on its star running back to shoulder a good portion of the load this season.
RB Mike Davis, South Carolina
Mike Davis is a pleasure to watch.
Redolent of Ray Rice, he is undersized but difficult for even the biggest defenders to tackle. He runs with heart and shakes off defenders at will, using both speed and strength to do so.
Last season, Davis emerged from Marcus Lattimore's shadow and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground. In 2014, the Gamecocks lose quarterback Connor Shaw and receiver Bruce Ellington. Steve Spurrier will continue to pass the ball with Dylan Thompson, but he knows that the strength of his team lies with Davis and the veteran offensive line. Ipso facto, there will be a lot of carries.
And a lot of scores.
RB Jahwan Edwards, Ball State
Jahwan Edwards took a back seat, in some ways, to the passing duo of Keith Wenning and Willie Snead last season. The Cardinals finished with 4,214 passing yards, 11th-most in the country.
But Edwards still managed to rush for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. The season prior, in 2012, he had the same amount of scores but 1,400 yards on the ground. Quietly, he is one of the most accomplished offensive players at the FBS level. For real.
This season, Ball State loses Wenning and Snead, meaning it will need to rely more heavily on Edwards in the running game. Pete Lembo is a smart enough coach to play to his strengths.
And Edwards is that strength.
RB Corey Grant, Auburn
Corey Grant will split time with Cameron Artis-Payne and, likely, at least one other player in Auburn's backfield. What's more, Artis-Payne is bigger and more suited to getting carries near the goal line.
But Auburn doesn't often score from in the red zone. It scores from anywhere it pleases. Tre Mason's 23 rushing touchdowns in 2013 are proof of that, and Grant is poised to play Mason's role in 2014.
I am wary of all "unofficial" 40-yard dash times, but it would be remiss not to mention the 4.11 Grant allegedly clocked this offseason. Even if it's falsified, it does not belie the point. Grant is pretty damn fast.
And fast works well in this offense.
WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston
The first of three wide receivers on this list, Deontay Greenberry is the sneakiest Biletnikoff candidate in the country.
Don't think he's some diamond in the rough, either. Greenberry has been a known commodity since high school, committing to Houston despite being a 5-star recruit on the 247Sports subjective rankings and a top-50 overall player on the Composite.
He had 82 catches, 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns last season with a freshman quarterback under center. Now John O'Korn is a game-tested sophomore, and their rapport should be even better in Year 2.
Do yourself a favor: Don't sleep on Greenberry.
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Wisconsin running backs score touchdowns.
That's just the way it is.
The Badgers have finished top-16 in the country in rushing touchdowns every year since 2008. And even though last year—the first under head coach Gary Andersen—saw a healthy split between James White and Melvin Gordon, this year Gordon is the obvious No. 1 option in the backfield.
Gordon is the best big-play threat in the country, but he is also so much more. The adage "he can score from anywhere on the field" is true in his case, whether it be from midfield, his own goal line or the opponent's.
Fifteen scores seems like a virtual lock—and a conservative estimate.
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Todd Gurley is the best running back in America.
Few sane people would argue that. But he also might be the nation's best player. He has a rare, Adrian Peterson-esque blend of speed and power that makes him a threat to score in multiple different ways.
Last season, Gurley injured his ankle against LSU in September. He missed the next three games entirely and looked affected even when he returned. And yet he still finished top-20 in the country with 16 touchdowns, two less than he scored as a true freshman in 2012.
How many can he score as an upperclassman with good health?
RB Derrick Henry/T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
There is no use in trying to decide between these two.
T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry are both incredible. The argument could be made, and probably should be made, that they are two of the 10 best running backs in America. Maybe even two of the top five.
How their carries will be split, however, is unclear at the moment. It is one of the biggest national questions heading into the season.
But with uncertainty under center for the Crimson Tide, new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will give both of his backs the ball. A lot. Both will see enough carries to break double-digit touchdowns. Easy.
In 2005, Kiffin was the offensive coordinator for a USC team with similar running back depth. That season, Reggie Bush scored 18 offensive touchdowns and LenDale White had 26.
Expect something similar.
RB Duke Johnson, Miami
Even with Stephen Morris under center, Miami's plan heading into 2013 was to force-feed Duke Johnson the football.
That didn't work out too well, as Johnson got injured and missed most of the season. But he should be healthy again in 2014, and now that Morris is gone and Ryan Williams, his presumed replacement, tore his ACL, the workload should be there for a massive season.
If given the opportunity, Johnson can be one of the best kick and punt returners in the country, which would bolster these numbers. Al Golden might not throw him back there in 2014 in order to preserve him for more carries, but either way, he will see the end zone plenty.
RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
Jeremy Langford was one of the breakout stars of 2013, emerging from seemingly nowhere to replace Le'Veon Bell and give Michigan State another true workhorse in the backfield.
His 19 touchdowns last season were more than any returning player in college football, and his production was backloaded. He got better as the season went on—as did the whole Michigan State offense—and should enjoy an even finer season in 2014.
Langford excels at icing out games—at scoring touchdowns that break the other team's back when Sparty is up by one or two scores in the fourth quarter. He gets stronger as the game goes on.
There is no reason to believe he won't continue that trend.
RB Byron Marshall, Oregon
Thomas Tyner is all the rage in Eugene right now, and he will certainly cut into Byron Marshall's workload.
Marshall is still the lead back, technically, and the lead back in this offense will score. A lot. Marshall had 14 touchdowns on the ground last season, despite being shut out in the final three games.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota will continue to run in 2014, but after a knee injury hampered him last season, there is a chance his workload will be curtailed. It seems like less hits would be healthy for him, and Mark Helfrich is a smart enough coach to realize that.
And that means even more carries for Marshall.
WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford
At times last season, it felt like Ty Montgomery was the only dangerous playmaker on Stanford's roster.
He and Ryan Switzer (North Carolina) were probably the two best kick returners in the country, but Montgomery also made a huge impact in the passing game, finishing with 958 yards and 10 scores through the air. In total, he reached the end zone 14 times.
This upcoming season, Stanford loses workhorse tailback Tyler Gaffney, defensive coordinator Derek Mason and a lot of pieces in the defensive front seven. In other words, the running game should be less effective, and the Cardinal will need to score more points.
That means more passing, and more passing means extra targets for Montgomery. He and quarterback Kevin Hogan, who is entering his senior year, have established a great connection.
WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
DeVante Parker has been Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target these past few seasons, and even without his star quarterback, he is set up for continued success in 2014.
New head coach Bobby Petrino is a star-maker in the passing game, and Parker fits his mold quite well. He can get vertical and make big plays in the air with his 6'3" frame and massive hops.
Parker has caught 22 touchdowns the past two seasons, and Will Gardner has looked sharp enough at quarterback this spring to inspire hope.
Take into account what this team lost on defense—a gaggle of NFL draft picks along with head coach Charlie Strong and coordinator Vance Bedford—and the harder ACC schedule, and you have a team that could throw the ball a lot next season.
Parker should reap the benefits with 15 or so scores.
RB Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State
Desmond Roland is a bowling ball.
I mean that as a term of endearment. He is round, compact (despite standing 6'2") and thunderous and has a great nose for the end zone.
Roland had 16 scores on the ground last season, including seven in a two-game stretch against Iowa State (four) and Texas Tech (three). The Cowboys offense should take a small step back in 2014, but Roland will continue to be a featured part of the unit.
And he will still find his way to pay dirt.
RB Karlos Williams, Florida State
Karlos Williams was a blue-chip prospect who started his career on defense but moved to running back last season and emerged as one of the better ball-carriers in America. Go figure.
With Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. gone, he should see a huge uptick in carries, even though head coach Jimbo Fisher will continue to spread the ball around to Ryan Green and others.
Still, Williams needed just 91 carries to get to 11 touchdowns last season. Much of that came in garbage time, but it nonetheless showed an impressive nose for the end zone—one of the many things Williams has done to impress people in Tallahassee.
"Let's be truthful. He has it all," said former FSU running back and current Washington Redskin Chris Thompson, according to Natalie Pierre of the Tallahassee Democrat. "He is as strong as Wilder, and faster than I am. … The first time I saw (him run), I was like, 'Wow. He is going to be a weapon.' Not just here but at the next level."