He Won't Get the Hype, but Jonathan Williams Might Be the SEC's Best RB

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMarch 11, 2015

Getty Images

With running backs like Georgia's Nick Chubb, LSU's Leonard Fournette, Tennessee's Jalen Hurd, Arkansas' Alex Collins and Alabama's Derrick Henry in the conference, it's safe to say that the SEC will be a running back-driven conference in 2015.

Which one is the best?

Chubb has the stats, Fournette has the hype and Henry has the size. The right answer, though, might not even be the most notable name in his own backfield.

Arkansas senior Jonathan Williams.

The 6'0", 224-pounder from Allen, Texas, led the Razorbacks with 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, splitting time with Collins, who finished the year with 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Jonathan Williams' Career Rushing Stats
YearCar.Yds.YPCTDs
2012452315.130
20131509006.004
20142111,1905.6412
Career4062,3215.7216
CFBStats.com

Pretty impressive considering Williams has been splitting carries with Collins over the last two seasons. That's part of the plan, though.

"We're very excited about the combination of Jonathan and Alex together," head coach Bret Bielema told Bleacher Report. "Obviously, they've been able to put up impressive numbers, and the reason for that is because they share the workload."

Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams
Arkansas RB Jonathan WilliamsJohn Weast/Getty Images

Williams has proven over the last two seasons that he has the size to take the punishment between the tackles, the jets to be a home run hitter in space and the hands to be a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

A true complete back, Williams passed up a chance to jump to the NFL to come back to be part of what's becoming one of the most prolific running back systems in college football.

Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams
Arkansas RB Jonathan WilliamsWesley Hitt/Getty Images

"I don't think a back that's been in our system since I've been a head coach can survive as a one-back guy. We've had guys gain almost 3,000 yards between the three of them, and there's no way one guy can do that. We've always felt really strongly about having two major guys and one role player, and I think J-Will will take the lead on the role that he'll play his year."

Take the lead, he will. 

Arkansas released its spring depth chart on Wednesday morning, and Williams found himself atop the running back depth chart without an "or" attaching him and Collins.

That's quite a compliment for Williams, who simply goes about his business in the Hog backfield.

"I think we all take Williams for granted because he lacks a little of that 'flash' factor," said Nicholas Mason, program manager and host on ESPN Radio 99.5 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. "We have to forget about a guy not making sexy plays and just look at his production. The kid just gets it done."

He gets it done in an offense that doesn't get too creative with the running game. Of the 916 plays Arkansas ran last year, 557 were running plays (60.8 percent).

Quarterback Brandon Allen was solid as a game manger last season, but Arkansas' ability to remain consistent in the running game without much of a deep threat in a passing game is a massive compliment to the running backs and the offensive line.

Sure, Chubb is a monster, Fournette has the potential to be a superstar and Henry is a physical freak who jumps off the screen.

But Williams is a proven superstar and rarely gets mentioned in the conversation.

That makes him, by far, the most underrated running back in the SEC. He also might be the best.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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