NCAA Football 2009: Ranking the Running Back Units in The ACC

Jeffrey Fann@TalkinACCSportsAnalyst IJune 8, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 08:  Jonathan Dwyer #21 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets carries the ball during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This will begin an eight-part series in which I will rank the different units of each ACC Teams over the next several weeks.

This is just in time for the college football season.These are the units I will cover culminating in total team rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers\Tight Ends
Offensive Line
Defensive Line
Defensive Backs
Special Teams
Full Team

1) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Starting with returning ACC Offensive player of the year Jonathan Dwyer, who gained 1,395 on the ground, the Yellow Jackets are flat out loaded at this position.

Next is Roddy Jones, who rushed for 690 yards last season, including a game against the Georgia Bulldogs in which he rushed for over 200 yards.

The Jackets obtain the services of Louisville transfer Anthony Allen. He only holds the Louisville single-game rushing record. After that, you have running backs Lucas Cox and his 7.7 yards per rush, Marcus Wright, who rushed for over 3,000 yards his senior season in high school, and Embry Peebles who runs a mid 4.3 40-yard dash.

2) Clemson Tigers

Even with the loss of senior James Davis, the Tigers have plenty of returning talent at running back. With one of the country's most explosive players, CJ Spiller's now becomes the feature back. Spiller ran 690 yards last year and is the current active ACC leader in career rushing yards.

Running back recruits Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington should be major contributors this season, who were both ranked in the top-25 in 2008. Spring game breakout star Rendrick Taylor also gives the Tigers a tough inside runner.

3) Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies 1,265 yard runner Darren Evans is back.

Only a sophomore, Evans should be even better this year. He finished the year as the MVP of the Orange Bowl, running for 153 yards in the game. The Hokies have their own talented recruit who looks ready to contribute in 2009.

Ryan Williams, the four-star High School All-American from 2008, had 86-yards running in a spring game to go along with 66-yards receiving. Former starter Kenny Lewis Jr., who ruptured his achilles tendon last season, won't unseat Evans and likely will not play ahead of Williams. However, he should still have a major impact for the Hokies.

4) Maryland Terrapins

The Terrapins have their own 1,000 yard runner coming back in underrated Da'Rel Scott. Scott last year gained 1,133 yards on the ground and was named first team All-ACC.

Along with Scott, Davin Meggett and Morgan Green form a formidable backfield. Davin Megget is son of former NFL player Dave Megget, who was one of the top freshman running backs in the ACC last year. He gained 457 yards for a 5.13 yards-per-carry average.

Green, who should also see some playing time, ran for 72 yards in the Humanitarian Bowl

5) Miami Hurricanes

Returning Hurricane leading rusher Graig Cooper gained 841 yards on the ground in 2008. The often injured, but talented, running back Javaris James looks to come back healthy for his senior season.

If James is 100 percent and returns to the form that made him a Freshman All-American, the Hurricanes will possess one of the best one of the best one-two punches in the ACC.

6) North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels have a nice one-two running back combination of their own.

Shaun Draughn rushed for 866 yards on 198 carries. Ryan Houston will be considered the in-between-the-tackles runner for the Heels. Last year, he gained 299 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Another top ACC running back from the recruiting class of 2008 is Jamal Womble, who could also vie for playing time.

7) Boston College Eagles

The Eagles have one of the youngest backfields in the ACC, but they have plenty of talent. True freshman Josh Haden and Montel Harris combined for 1,379 yards last year and six touchdowns.

Harris had 900 yards and Haden ran for 479. Senior Jeff Smith provides running back experience and had 192 yards rushing last year on 37 carries.

8) Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles will have a new starter at running back who will have to replace Antone Smith's team-leading 792 yards and 15 touchdowns. The most likely candidates are sophomores Jermanine Thomas, who rushed for 482 yards last year, and Ty Jones.

Thomas in particular is a very good receiver too.

9) North Carolina State Wolfpack

The Wolfpack have the potential to carry a very solid backfield this season.

Senior Tony Baker has missed nearly two full seasons with a knee injury. In 2006, Baker was the Wolfpack's leading rusher with 688 yards. He joins the team's second leading rusher from 2008, Jamelle Eugene who had 442 yards.

If Baker can return to his 2006 form, the Pack will have a nice running-back tandem.

10) Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Deacs played musical chairs with their running backs last season. Coach Jim Grobe started the season with Josh Adams, switched to Brandon Pendergrass, and finished the year with Kevin Harris.

Harris had 136 yards in the EagleBank Bowl and is the likely starter for 2009. Josh Adams has the most potential though, as he looks to regain the form that made him the ACC Rookie of the year in 2007.

11) Duke Blue Devils

How good the Blue Devils are at running back will depend on one thing, the return of Re'quan Boyette.

Boyette was Duke's leading rusher from 2006-2007, but he missed all of 2008 with a knee injury. The returning leading rusher, Jay Hollingsworth, led the Blue Devils in 2008 with 399 rushing yards.

Tony Jackson also saw significant time last year, while gaining 259 yards, and showing good speed in his limited opportunities.

12) Virginia Cavaliers

The Cavs' 2008 leading rusher Cedric Peerman is gone. Now, the Cavaliers are left searching for who will start at running back this season.

The top candidate appears to be Mikell Simpson, who ran for 570 yards in 2007, but only 262 in an injury filled 2008. The Cavs will be running a new spread attack under recently hired offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, so it's a little tricky to say how the running backs of Virginia will adjust.

Redshirt freshman Torry Mack and sophomore Max Milien could vie for time as well.