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Capital One Bowl: Mark Ingram and the Top Running Backs in the 2011 NFL Draft

Chris FaigCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2010

Capital One Bowl: Mark Ingram and the Top Running Backs in the 2011 NFL Draft

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    With some of the most exciting BCS college bowl games right around the corner, such as the Capital One Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans, the draft stock of the nation's premiere running backs could receive a major boost or take a serious plummet.  

    Alabama's Mark Ingram, Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray and Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams are just a few dominant backs that can still make serious increases to their draft value with an electrifying performance in their upcoming bowl games.  

    Mark Ingram is currently the highest-rated running back entering the NFL Draft in 2011, and has the most to lose when he suits up against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.  ESPN Insider currently has Ingram as the 24th-best overall player in the upcoming draft, so there is a chance that he could solidify a first-round selection with a productive outing.

    The following slides exhibit some of the top running back prospects entering the 2011 NFL Draft.

Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh Panthers

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Height

    5'8"

    Weight

    195 lbs.

    Class

    Sophomore

    Hometown

    Albany, NY

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 197 rushing attempts for 956 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns

    Receiving: 27 receptions for 216 yards

     

    Stats for 2009

    Rushing: 325 carries for 1,799 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns

    Receiving: 25 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown

     

    Although Dion Lewis didn't have an extremely productive year, he managed to record zero turnovers throughout the course of this season.  Lewis exhibited just how special he could potentially be with his amazing 250-plus-yard, four-TD performance against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    December 4th @ Cincinnati Bearcats (Won 28-10): 42 rushing attempts for 261 yards and four touchdowns

     

    Bowl Game

    BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama vs. Kentucky Wildcats on January 8th, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST

Noel Devine, West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Height

    5'8'

    Weight

    180 lbs.

    Class

    Senior

    Hometown

    Fort Myers, Florida

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 209 carries for 936 yards and six touchdowns

    Receiving: 34 receptions for 258 yards and one touchdown

     

    2009 Stats (Best Year)

    Rushing: 241 rushing attempts for 1,465 yards and 13 touchdowns

    Receiving: 22 receptions for 177 yards and one touchdown

     

    Noel Devine is currently ranked as the ninth-best running back, and the 104th-best overall prospect, potentially entering the 2011 NFL Draft.  Devine has the speed, and innate elusiveness that will make him valuable to many teams.  He is likely to shine more as a return specialist than for his running back contributions.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    October 9th vs. UNLV (Won 49-10): Three rushing attempts for 84 yards and two touchdowns

     

    Bowl Game

    Champs Sports Bowl vs. North Carolina State (Loss 23-7): Eight rushing attempts for 50 yards and four receptions for 21 yards

Mikel Leshoure, Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Height

    6'1"

    Weight

    230 lbs.

    Class

    Junior

    Hometown

    Champaign, Illinois

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 252 rushing attempts for 1,513 yards and 14 touchdowns

    Receiving: 15 receptions for 175 yards and three touchdowns

     

    Leshoure has rushed for over 100 yards eight times this season, averaging a touchdown every game.  

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    November 6th @ Michigan Wolverines (Loss 67-65): 24 carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns, along with two receptions for 52 yards and two touchdowns

     

    Bowl Game

    Texas Bowl vs. Baylor Bears: 10 carries for 71 yards and one touchdown along with one reception and 15 yards

Shane Vereen, California Golden Bears

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Height

    5'10"

    Weight

    204 lbs.

    Class

    Junior

    Hometown

    Valencia, California

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 231 carries for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns

    Receiving: 22 receptions for 209 yards and three touchdowns 

     

    Shane Vereen is currently ranked as the seventh overall running back and 95th overall player entering the 2011 NFL Draft.  Vereen returned kickoffs for California this past season and also has Wildcat-running capabilities.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    September 17th @ Nevada Wolf Pack (Loss 52-31): 19 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns, along with one reception for nine yards

LaMichael James, Oregon Ducks

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Height

    5'9"

    Weight

    185 lbs.

    Class

    Sophomore

    Hometown

    Texarkana, Texas

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 281 attempts for 1,682 yards and 21 touchdowns

    Receiving: 13 receptions for 169 yards and one touchdown

     

    LaMichael James had an excellent sophomore season being one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. James was also a candidate for the 2010 Walter Camp Player of the Year and Doak Walker Award (which recognizes the nation's top running back).

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    October 2nd vs. Stanford Cardinals (Won 52-31): 31 carries for 257 yards and three touchdowns

     

    Bowl Game

    BCS National Championship vs. Auburn Tigers in Glendale, Arizona on January 10, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST

Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Height

    5'8"

    Weight

     197 lbs.

    Class

    Senior

    Hometown

    Tyler, Texas

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 261 carries for 1,516 yards and 16 touchdowns

    Receiving: 19 receptions for 106 yards

     

    After a shortened junior season due to injury, Kendall Hunter bounced back with dominance showing NFL scouts that he could be a serious threat at the next level.  Hunter, along with fellow teammate and NFL prospect Justin Blackmon, was named to the AFCA Coaches' All-American team.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    September 4th vs. Washington State (Won 65-17): 21 rushing attempts for 257 yards and four touchdowns

     

    Bowl Game

    Valero Bowl vs. Arizona in San Antonio, Texas on December 29, 2010 at 9:15 PM EST

DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma Sooners

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Height

    6'1"

    Weight

    207 lbs.

    Class

    Senior

    Hometown

    Las Vegas, Nevada

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 257 attempts for 1,121 yards for 14 touchdowns

    Receiving: 69 receptions for 595 yards and five touchdowns

     

    DeMarco Murray has the size and athletic ability to be a dominant running back in the National Football League.  Murray runs a 4.42 40-yard dash, and has terrific receiving abilities.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    September 18th vs. Air Force (Won 27-24): 26 rushing attempts for 110 yards for two touchdowns, along with five receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown

     

    Bowl Game

    Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1st, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST

Daniel Thomas, Kansas State Wildcats

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Height

    6'2"

    Weight

    228 lbs.

    Class

    Senior

    Hometown

    Hilliard, Florida

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 276 carries for 1,495 yards and 16 touchdowns

    Receiving: 26 receptions for 163 yards

     

    Daniel Thomas is currently listed as the third overall running back, and 51st overall player, in the upcoming NFL Draft by ESPN Insider.  Scouts inc. has described Thomas as "a workhorse who can wear down defenses over the course of a game."  Thomas is a big back that is tough to bring down and has great vision.  

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    November 27th @ North Texas (Won 49-41): 36 carries for 269 yards for two touchdowns

     

    Bowl Game

    New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Syracuse in Bronx, New York on December 30th, 2010 at 3:20 PM EST

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Height

    5'10"

    Weight

    202 lbs.

    Class

    Sophomore

    Hometown

    Manassas, Virginia

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 106 carries for 473 yards and nine touchdowns

    Receiving: 10 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown

     

    2009 Stats

    Rushing: 293 carries for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns

    Receiving: 16 receptions for 180 yards for one touchdown


    Todd McShay has described Williams as "a premier talent, who could be a first-round pick despite disappointing results in 2010."  Williams has been haunted by injury this season, but is still expected to be a valuable asset in this year's draft.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    November 20th @ Miami Hurricanes (Won 31-17): 14 rushing attempts for 142 yards for two touchdowns, along with one reception for seven yards

     

    Bowl Game

    Orange Bowl vs. No. 5 Stanford in Miami Gardens, Florida on January 3rd, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST

Mark Ingram, Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height

    5'10"

    Weight

    215 lbs.

    Class

    Junior

    Hometown

    Flint, Michigan

     

    Season Stats

    Rushing: 146 carries for 816 yards and 11 touchdowns

    Receiving: 20 receptions for 252 yards and one touchdown

     

    2009 Stats

    Rushing: 271 attempts for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns

    Receiving: 32 receptions for 334 yards and three touchdowns

     

    Mark Ingram will be the first running back selected in the 2011 draft, and has been on the minds of many NFL scouts since he won the Heisman Trophy his sophomore season.  Ingram is currently likely to be selected towards the end of the first round in the 2011 NFL Draft, but can persuade NFL teams in desperate need of a starting running back to select him earlier with a productive performance against the Michigan State Spartans in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day.

     

    Highlight Game of the Year

    September 25th @ Arkansas Razorbacks (Won 24-20): 24 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns, along with two receptions for 27 yards

     

    Bowl Game

    Capital One Bowl vs. No. 9 Michigan State Spartans in Orlando, Florida on January 1st, 2011 at 1:00 PM EST

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