Top Ten Running Backs in College Football
I usually only write about Ohio State football, but if you look through the archives, you'll notice, that's not always the case.
This is my personal list of the top 10 running backs in the country heading into the 2009 college football season and a short thought on why I've included each of them.
No. 10—DeMarco Murray—Oklahoma Sooners
Before being injured, Murray played in 12 games and rushed for 1,002 yards and 14 scores.
His teammate Chris Brown also rushed for over 1,000 yards and added 20 touchdowns so they will split carries, but Murray is more of a consistent big-play threat in my mind, so he gets the nod over Brown.
No. 9—Noel Devine—West Virginia Mountaineers
Last year in the shadow of Pat White, Devine rushed for nearly 1,300 yards, but only four scores. This year, by default, it's the Noel Devine show. The Mountaineers success this season, or lack thereof, rests squarely on Devine's shoulders. Even if WVU loses some games they shouldn't, Devine should have a big year in the Big East.
No. 8—CJ Spiller—Clemson Tigers
As the backup to James Davis in 2008, Spiller rushed for over 600 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the ground and added over 400 yards and three more touchdowns receiving.
As the starter in 2009, it's likely that vs. the weak defenses of the ACC (other than Va. Tech), Spiller could very likely have over 2,000 all-purpose yards.
No. 7—LeGarrette Blount—Oregon Ducks
In 2008, Jeremiah Johnson was the Oregon running back most college football fans had heard of. As a complementary back, Blount had a solid year with 1,002 yards and a better yards per carry average (7.3) than Johnson.
He also scored four more touchdowns (17) than Johnson. Considering what he already did as the No. 2 guy a year ago, watch out now that Blount is the featured back.
No. 6—Evan Royster—Penn State Nittany Lions
With the departure of Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Iowa's Shonn Greene, Royster is the Big Ten's top returning running back. A year ago, he rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.
With all their top wide receivers gone, Penn State may have no choice but to reply more on their ground game and Royster.
But quarterback Daryll Clark must find some new weapons in the passing game, or defenses will load up on the line-of-scrimmage, making it difficult for Royster to duplicate 2008.
No. 5—Jacquizz Rodgers—Oregon State Beavers
In only 11 games a year ago, Rodgers rushed for over 1,250 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Along the way, he made a name for himself nationally when he led Oregon State to their huge upset win over USC in Corvallis.
The Pac-10 appears to be more of a wide-open race than it's been since Pete Carroll first arrived in L.A. and if he can stay healthy, Rodgers will be a key player in deciding who wins the conference in 2009.
No. 4—Jonathan Dwyer—Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Dwyer had a big year in Paul Johnson's Triple Option offense a year ago, rushing for 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Much like Spiller, Dwyer has the luxury of playing in a very effective offensive scheme vs. a conference chock full of ineffective defenses.
He's sure to have another huge season to be the No. 1 weapon and scoring threat for the Yellow Jackets.
No. 3—Charles Scott—LSU Tigers
Despite their 8-5 record and well-documented quarterback issues a year ago, LSU did have one of the best running backs in the SEC in Scott. He rushed for 1,174 yards and 18 scores in 2008.
If new quarterback Jordan Jefferson can force defenses to respect and defend the LSU passing attack, Scott should have another big year as the beneficiary.
No. 2—Kendall Hunter—Oklahoma State Cowboys
Perhaps the least-hyped star of the Cowboys behind wide receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Zac Robinson, Hunter is one of the nation's top returning backs. In 2008, he ran for 1,555 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground.
With the three-headed monster Okie State will bring to the field, and the less than stellar, and at the very least, questionable defenses in the Big 12, there's no reason not to believe another huge year is in the cards for Hunter.
No. 1—Boom Herron—Ohio State Buckeyes
Got ya. I 'm totally kidding. I get accused of being a homer so I had to do it! I like Herron a lot, and both Brandon Saine and Jaamal Berry too, but none of them are anywhere near making this preseason list. Talk to me in a couple months though.
No. 1—Jahvid Best—California Golden Bears
Best is the nation's No. 1 returning running back from last season—a year in which he rushed for 1,580 yards, 15 touchdowns, and a ridiculous 8.1 yards per carry.
He possesses the speed and athletic ability to break a long touchdown run every time he touches the ball. He's on the short list of preseason Heisman contenders and barring injury, 1,800+ yards is not a stretch of the imagination.
That's my list. I know there will be differing opinions and perhaps you believe I left out someone, or included someone who isn't worthy.
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