College Football 2011: LaMichael James and the Top 10 Pac-12 Running Backs
The Pac-10, now 12, conjures up images of footballs being thrown all over the field and for good reason. However, it may surprise the casual fan that the Pac had six—count ‘em, six!—1,000-yard rushers last year, with another player topping the 900-yard barrier.
So let's take a look at the underrated Pac-12's top 10 rushers for the upcoming season.
If any player deserves a dose of good luck, it's James Montgomery. He fought through several injuries to get his shot as a starter this year.
Montgomery ran for almost 500 yards last season for a woeful WSU team, but both Montgomery and the team are on the upswing.
For the last decade, Cal has been RBU. With Shane Vereen off to the NFL, it's up to Isi Sofele to carry on the tradition.
While he averaged almost five-yards per carry last year, his small stature (5’7”) will provide a major challenge for yet another possible 1,000-yard runner at Cal.
With Nick Foles no longer around to provide his aerial assault, there’s a good chance that Antolin will help carry more of the load next season.
He has a particular knack for scoring touchdowns in the desert.
The Trojans believe in a running back by committee system, yet Marc Tyler elevated himself from the pack by rushing for 913 yards in 2010.
While trying to read Lane Kiffin’s mind could be dangerous, we’re assuming that Tyler will get the bulk of the carries this upcoming season.
Arizona State has its sights set on a Pac-12 Title and Cameron Marshall is one of the key reasons why.
This speedster averaged more than five-yards per carry last season and scored nine touchdowns. The sophomore is only going to get better, so defenses beware.
Stepfan Taylor “STEP”ed up last year to fill the immense shoes of Toby Gerhart by rushing for more than 1,000 yards.
With Andrew Luck returning for his 2011 Heisman-run, Taylor should find lots of room to roam.
Welcome to the Pac-12, Mr. Stewart.
Stewart torched the Big 12 for more than 1,300 yards last season. At only 5’6”, he’s a hard man to bring down behind a big Colorado offensive line.
It's been awhile since UCLA has had a running back they can count on, but Johnathan Franklin is the man.
He has the knack for breaking tackles as his 1,127-yards rushing proves. When the Bruins get some better quarterback play, Franklin will become even more dangerous.
Chris Polk has had an outstanding first two seasons with Washington, going well over 1,000 yards in each season.
An immediate fan favorite, Polk used a combination of speed and power to average more than five-yards per carry. Without Jake Locker next season, Polk will have to shoulder even more responsibility—but we’re sure he can handle it.
LaMichael James is a consensus top three Heisman candidate and rightly so. He ran for 1,546 yards as a freshman, and bettered that last year as a sophomore with 1,731 yards.
The Duck system is a perfect blend of speed and decision-making, and James is a master of both. After scoring an astounding 21 touchdowns in 2010, he is a threat to lead the nation in scoring as a junior.
With the excitement of the Pac-12 beginning its inaugural season, and its well-deserved reputation as a quarterback’s playground, don’t take your eyes off of this potentially great group of running backs—if you blink, like many of their stunned defenders, you might miss them.