Looking Ahead: Who Will Be the Best Running Back in the SEC in '09?
As the 2009 football season creeps a little closer ever day, I get more anxious to see the most talented football players in all college football compete, those players being in the SEC.
I think the running back position is the second most fun position to watch in all college football behind that of the QB role. We all know the SEC has it's fair share of talented quarterbacks but often the many talented RBs are left out?
So I would like to take a little time and list just a few guys who have what it takes to make a good SEC team a great team.
Now I know I might leave a guy or two off who you think deserves to be on this list, but know that their are many to chose from. So if I do indeed leave off your favorite running back please just ask why I did this or make me aware of who it is, as I am not aware of all the many RBs in the SEC.
So with that said, I would like to list five guys who I think has what it takes to help their team in a great way in '09.
The first is Michael Smith: Smith was more or less a third string guy most of his career at Arkansas until he was brought into the spotlight in '08. Michael played behind two great players in the two-time Doak Walker award winner Darren McFadden and well rounded back Felix Jones.
Smith turned gained much confidence in the '08 spring game where he put up some great numbers in the red vs white spring practice game. The football season soon followed and so did the emergence of star Michael Smith. Michael had some great games in '08 but almost none better than the Kentucky game that came down to the last seconds.
Kentucky did not have an answer for explosive Smith, he was the Pig's leading rusher and receiver in that game. Smith had a total of 192 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving for a total of 225 total yards. Smith had some great runs in that game but Kentucky's Mike Hartline helped his team to a one point win that made the score 21-20.
Michael Smith also made a strong finish to the '08 season gaining 630 yards in a four game stretch against foes Florida, Auburn, Kentucky and Ole Miss.
In '09 look for Smith to take the led and help bring this team back to the top of the SEC. Michigan State transfer Ryan Mallet will also be a big help as he is said to have a great football IQ.
Smith will help carry his team to the top of the SEC and Bobby Pertino and Ryan Mallet will only make the process that much easier for him. Smith is going to get a lot more carriers this year and will look to impress some scouts in '09.
The second is Charles Scott: Charles Scott maybe the most well rounded back in the SEC in '09. He is not a very fast guy but has the ability to turn on the speed once he hits the edge of the line. Scott has a very nice frame he stands 5'11'' tall and weighs 233 lbs.
This is a guy teams have to build their game plan around when they face LSU. He has the ability to make a short and inches dive play turn into a 20 yard first down. Scott is a very hard working kid who gets most of his yards between the tackles. Scott is one of LSU's most productive running backs in school history with 1,775 career rushing yards to go along with 28 TDs.
Scott runs with out standing power along with the fact he has great balance in his game. Scott is also one of the most versatile backs the SEC has to offer.
Scott brought a lot to the table last season and he had to with the inconsistent play for the QB position he was often the only answer LSU could come up with to sustain a very good dive. Others like Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd also helped the Tigers stay in late games with their great play making ability.
Thankfully the Tigers saw some great play out of Jordan Jefferson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, he connected on 16-25 passing and totaled 142 yards in that game.
In '08 Scott rushed for 1,174 yards on 207 car. He averaged 5.2 ypc and had a total of eight touchdowns. I look for Scott to be a major part of the Tigers offense again in '09. He will have more help this year, knowing Les Miles he will not allow the poor play for the QB position and the rest will fall in place.
The third is Anthony Dixion: Anthony Dixion is a guy who will line up in front of you and flat out run your tail over. It's obvious that he is not afraid to take a lick mainly because everyone is afraid to lower their head and take on Dixion one-on-one.
He has the power and agility to make some highlight plays as we saw in '07 when they spoiled the hopes of Ole Miss to win the Golden egg trophy. Dixion and Mississippi went on the beat UCF in the Liberty Bowl to break their very long none bowl game streak.
'07 proved to be Dixion's best year of his career as he gained 1,007 yards rushing on 287 car.
But in '08 he was not a let down, with the big bowl win and coming off a winning season the Bulldogs looked to make some noise but the only noise they heard was the screaming of Croom at half time. The Bulldogs often found themselves down late in games and finished the season with a 4-8 regular season record.
In '08, Dixion had 197 car. for 869 yards, he averaged 4.4 ypc and totaled seven touchdowns on the season. Dixion's rushing attempts went down almost 100 attempts for the '07 season, this could maybe be a reason why the Bulldogs were not successful in '08?
In '09 with their new head coach in tact I think the Bulldogs will have a improved season but none the less a rebuilding year for this team. With the improved play from QB Tyson Lee the Dawgs have a chance to redeem themselves for the horrific let down in '08!
The fourth is Mark Ingram: Ingram was just a freshman last season and played more like a veteran in some most of Bama's games. Myself being a Bama fan loved the style of running Ingram brought to the table.
I never saw him lose his composer and I think that is why he was a great runner down the stretch, he never complained and never got down when Coffee would come in when he was just warming up. When Julio and Ingram made their freshman debut in '08 at the Georgia dome against ACC foe Clemson I knew Julio and Ingram were special.
These two played so well I think Clemson could not believe what hit them. Ingram out rushed both Spiller and Davis. CJ Spiller and Davis combined for a total of 20 yds. Ingram had a total of 96 yds. and out rushed them by 76 total yards all together.
Ingram had some amazing runs last season and put of phenomenal stats for a Alabama freshman, especially under coach Nick Saban. With such great success in '08 I think Saban will let Ingram run the rock just like he did Coffee, Ingram will have his share of time and probably split time with Trenton Richardson.
Nick Saban being a guy who loves to ground and pound the ball right down to the goal line will have to fill the spots on the O-line first. In '09 look for Ingram to have a great year and break the 1,000 yard mark. Last season Ingram totaled 143 car. for 728 yards and an amazing 12 TDs.
The fifth and final player is Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps: Rainey who stands 5'9'' tall is probably one of the of the best and most versatile players for the blue and orange. Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey are a part of the best team in college football, the Florida Gators.
Rainey and Demps who run 4.42 and 4.46 forties are what helped the gators combine for the most dangerous ground game in the SEC and probably in Division I football last season. Rainey is surprisingly able to make most of his huge gains running straight up the centers but! He manged to rip off many gains last season by running the ball right up the middle and once he is past the linebackers he is not going to be caught.
Emmanuel Moody the USC transfer was supposed to be the next big thing Florida fans had seen in a while but saw very limited action in '08? My only guess is that Moody had some kind of injury, I did not do extensive research to find that out. Last season Demps and Rainey combines for a amazing total of 1,257 yards on 162 car. with 11 TDs and a combined total of 15.6 ypc!
Their is not a doubt in my mind or anyone else's mind that these two players are going to be the best running back duo the SEC and the NCAA has to play in '09. These two players have speed, agility, strength, and the will to win any game they play.
So in '09 look out for lighting in Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps and right when you think there will be no thunder Tebow will launch a huge pass for six or run a linebacker over for a first down.
I hope you agree with most of these picks I have selected, I think these players are the best the SEC has to offer at the running back position. I think I might try and break down a few more positions: quarterback, wide receiver, etc...
Please leave a comment and tell me what you though of these seletcions!!
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