A true workhorse running back can be the backbone of an entire offense. These type of backs get the ball in fourth and one situations and are relied on to make big plays.
Most teams look for their quarterback to be their go-to player these days, but some teams still believe in handing the ball off 40 times per game. The players featured on this list play on those teams.
These are the ten running backs who will be run into the ground in the 2011 season.
Note: These players are not ranked according to how talented they are. They are ranked according to how much they will be used in the 2011 season.
Malcolm Brown has yet to play a single snap in college, but he is expected to be the every down back for Texas.
If you have ever seen Brown’s film before, then you know that this kid is the real deal. He is the perfect combination of power and speed.
He is a Ronnie Brown style running back in that he runs very low to the ground and seems impossible to tackle.
Last season, the Longhorns didn’t have a single back rush for over 600 yards. This season, however, will be different.
Expect Brown to see about 200 carries and be one of the best running backs in the Big 12.
In his sophomore season in 2010, Knile Davis ran for 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 204 carries. Davis didn’t actually get the bulk of the carries until midway through the season.
In 2011, Davis should carry the ball about 280 times and will be the focal point of the Razorbacks offense. They will be led by first year quarterback Tyler Wilson and will look to Davis for consistency.
Davis is a freak of nature. He can bench 415 pounds and runs a 4.29 second 40-yard dash.
Due to the number of carries he should get and also since he is starting to become a household name, expect Davis to be a legitimate Heisman candidate in 2011.
The biggest question mark surrounding Washington football is deciding who will replace Jake Locker at quarterback. However, one of the greatest certainties is that Chris Polk is a stud at running back.
Polk was a workhorse in 2010, carrying the ball 260 times for 1,415 yards and nine touchdowns.
The upcoming season looks like it could be Polk’s strongest yet. His offensive line returns four out of five starters from a season ago and his Huskies are one of the most-hyped teams in the Pac-12.
Like Davis, Polk should enjoy being the focal point of the offense for the first time in 2011. He will take advantage of it and will become on of the most notoriously unstoppable backs in the country.
Lance Dunbar is one of the most unknown stars in college football. Despite not being well known, Dunbar had one of the best seasons in the nation in 2010.
He ran for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns on 274 carries. The only thing more amazing than his statistics is that he has shown improvement every season.
Going into his senior season, Dunbar is looking to make his name more recognizable in 2011.
He was the North Texas Mean Green’s offense last season. He will probably get around 300 carries next season.
You could argue that James will not be over used because of all the different options Oregon has to run the ball with. They can use other running backs like Kenjon Barner or their quarterback Darron Thomas.
However, neither of those two players are quite the threat that James is. In an offense with so much emphasis on running the ball, LaMichael James is what makes Oregon go.
Last season, he had a Pac 10 high 294 carries and ran for 1,731 yards with 21 touchdowns.
James does it with his incredible breakaway speed and deceiving power. He is one of the most electrifying players in the game today and will start 2011 as a Heisman front-runner.
In 2010, Ronnie Hillman was one of the most impressive freshman in college football. He carried the ball 262 and ran for 1,532 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Him and quarterback Ryan Lindley are both coming back to lead one of the most underrated teams in college football, the San Diego State Aztecs.
Hillman has unbelievable quickness and unparalleled speed. He has the talent for the next level, but his size is a concern.
I am afraid the Aztecs will overuse the young phenom. Hopefully they don’t give him more than 240 carries per season.
Unfortunately, I see him becoming more of a focal point of their offense and having an extremely high amount of carries.
Horned Frog fans better hope that 2010 was not a fluke season for Ed Wesley, because they will need to rely on him to have success again in 2011.
Quarterback Andy Dalton was the heart and soul of the TCU offense, now Wesley must take over this role. He will be the new superstar of the offense
Last season Wesley ran for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 166 carries, very efficient numbers.
Wesley will probably get a lot more carries in 2011 because TCU will place more emphasis on the run game. He is key if the Horned Frogs expect to pull off yet another undefeated season.
Rodney “Speedy” Stewart, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated players in the country. He is a pint-sized tailback who has an uncanny ability to make people miss.
Last season he had 290 carries and led the Buffaloes with 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns.
His team is returning four out of five starters on the offensive line from a season ago, so he should have plenty of holes to run through.
Stewart will be key in Colorado’s transition into the Pac 12. The Buffaloes and Stewart will sneak up on teams.
One of South Carolina’s biggest weaknesses is their lack of consistency at quarterback. Stephen Garcia has done a questionable job at the position, and needs some support. That is when Marcus Lattimore steps in.
Lattimore had a fantastic freshman campaign last season. He ran for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns with 249 carries.
He is one of the most powerful backs in the country and is nearly impossible to take down by one man.
I expect head coach Steve Spurrier to feed Lattimore 25-30 times per game. His team has plenty of hype and Lattimore is his most consistent offensive player.
If the Gamecocks want to compete for an SEC title, then Lattimore will need to carry the offense.
Bobby Rainey is the definition of a workhorse. He carried the ball an FBS best 340 times in 2010. This helped him score 15 touchdowns and pile up 1,649 yards.
Rainey has flown under the radar for most of his career, but has been compared to Tennessee Titans pro-bowler Chris Johnson.
Unfortunately for Rainey, he is stuck at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers only won two games in 2010 and usually only get recognition for their outrageous mascot, Big Red.
If Rainey can continue to get an absurd number of carriers and continue to make big player, I am sure he might challenge Big Red as the nation’s most popular Hilltopper.