To avoid any hint of partiality or bias, this list ranks the top five returning SEC rushers based on one measurement alone—their rushing average versus the 50 stingiest rushing defenses in the nation in 2009.
Notably, one wide receiver makes the list. Quarterbacks were excluded.
The usual rankings of players based on total rushing yards is one way to determine a running back's value to his team, but this list is meant to tell a different story—which running backs have the most grit? Which rushers excel against the most intimidating defenses in the nation?
So kick back and be ready for some surprises as you enjoy this slideshow and get geared up for SEC Football 2010!
Though most of the glory in 2009 went to Mark Ingram for his Heisman-winning season, Alabama is returning more than one rusher that runs with conviction against the stingiest of defenses, with Ingram boasting 5.3 yards per carry.
With Roy Upchurch graduating, Richardson has the chance to move up on this list in 2010 and possibly even split stats with Ingram.
Against Florida and Texas (ranked No. 15 and No. 1 in rush defense), Richardson actually outperformed Ingram with a rushing average of 6.3 to Ingram's 4.6 against those teams.
This article was written by Darius Pourceau of bornhogwild.fantake.com
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This explosive freshman was a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season for Vanderbilt. He owes his ranking to strong performances against Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
Although Randall Cobb is listed as a wide receiver, he has had as many rushing attempts as most of the league's top backs.
Against Alabama and Georgia, he averaged about five yards per carry. Against LA Monroe's stingy rush defense, however, he ran for 41 yards on only three carries.
Kentucky will no doubt try to use this exceptional athlete as effectively as possible in 2010.
Dennis Johnson's rushing average of 6.1 against the top 50 rushing defenses is even more impressive considering that he had to build it against No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama.
Against Florida's vaunted defense, Johnson racked up a mind-boggling 7.6 ypc for 107 yards. Despite splitting carries with a deep backfield, Johnson was a dangerous weapon for the Razorbacks in 2009 and will likely continue to be so in 2010.
Averaging a whopping 6.3 yards per carry, Mark Ingram's performance against the top 50 rushing defenses in 2009 was nothing short of legendary.
Ingram was at his best when in the limelight and rushed for 116 yards (5.3 ypc) against Texas in the national championship game.