The FBS Running Backs No One Is Talking About, But Should Be

Kevin PaulSenior Analyst IOctober 14, 2008

They’re bulls in a china shop on the football field. They’re the caffeine that jumpstarts an offense—the giddy-up-and-go that got up and went because, plain and simple, you, the average football fan, have no clue who the hell they are.

They’re the underappreciated running backs of college football—the players that more often than not do all the heavy lifting, the leg churning, the shedding of blood, sweat, and tears that results in a measly two yards, yet an important two yards, only to make way for the headliner of the show.

Take Evan Royster of Penn State—heard of him? No, you only know Daryll Clark, the flashy passer, fleet-footed runner, the man who drives the Nittany Lion show. But Royster, with vision that allows him to slide through holes with ease and swallow up yards in bunches, is ranked in the top 15 in yards per carry, top 10 in touchdowns, and top 25 in yards per game.

What about Donald Brown, the Connecticut back who leads the nation in yards per game, with nearly 180? But most of you don’t know him, likely because the Huskies still only have respect in their basketball program.

Then there’s Derrick Washington, who, in his first six games, ran for 11 touchdowns, good for fifth in the nation. But I bet you didn’t know he ran for “The Zou.” No, of course not, even though he’s the one that has to keep defenses honest, even though all day long the opponents are still thinking of Heisman hopeful Chase Daniel and the Missouri passing game.

How about MiQuale Lewis—“MiQuale Who,” you say? Lewis is the key to Ball State’s offense—yes, the same Ball State team that managed to sneak into the top 25 just days ago. How do you think the team got there? Try Lewis, a back who has carried the team with his 130-plus yards per game and 13 touchdowns over its first seven games.

Kendall Hunter—he’s only a sophomore, definitely not 40. That’s right, he plays for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys, and his 140-plus yards per game are one of the main reasons that Oklahoma State finds itself among the nation’s top 10 teams in the country. But if he passed you on the street, you wouldn’t even flinch.

Evan Royster, Donald Brown, Derrick Washington, MiQuale Lewis, and Kendall Hunter—five talented backs that all hold significant roles on ranked teams, and you likely hadn’t heard of all five before today.

Tell them that and they likely wouldn’t care. They don’t need props; they don’t need a spotlight. They would rather be covered in mud, grass, and sweat—they’d want to be covered in football.

When the college football world is chattering about the the Knoshown Moreno types, the Javon Ringers of the world, the stars like Beanie Wells, it should be mentioning these players in the same breath—but it isn't.

Until today.