Ranking the Best Backfields for 2022 College Football Season

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2022

Ranking the Best Backfields for 2022 College Football Season

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    Quarterbacks tend to hoard the spotlight, but they're not the only ones in the backfield. In fact, the other position there often features an offense's most dynamic piece.

    Or, in these cases, pieces.

    Central Michigan, Utah and Wisconsin are among the programs with multiple high-output running backs. That's our focus here—highlighting the most proven backfields around the nation.

    The list is a subjective ranking of backfields heading into the 2022 season; it is not a projection of the upcoming year. Subsequently, past production is the largest factor in the selections. Depth of returning talent also helped determine our choices.

8. Syracuse Orange

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    Whether the production of Syracuse's backfield will correlate to wins represents a big challenge for the Orange. However, talent at running back is not in question.

    Sean Tucker burst onto the national radar as a true freshman, finishing with the sixth-most rushing yards (1,496) in the country. He added 20 receptions for 255 yards, totaling 14 touchdowns.

    Considering the breadth of Tucker's role, there is little space for a rotation. Still, the Orange brought in transfer Juwaun Price after he notched 693 yards and 10 scores for New Mexico State last year. Price should immediately be the backup.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Minnesota's situation is fascinating.

    Last season, freshmen Ky Thomas (824 yards, six touchdowns) and Mar'Keise Irving (699 yards, four TDs) paced the Golden Gophers. In what would ordinarily be a crushing blow to the positional unit, those two backs transferred to Kansas and Oregon, respectively.

    Minnesota, though, still has Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts to headline the backfield in 2022.

    Ibrahim only played in one game before an Achilles injury ended his 2021 season, but he's rushed for 3,003 yards in his career. Potts replaced him last year, racking up 552 yards and six touchdowns in five games before his own season-ending injury.

    Provided both players are back to full health, they'll be a tremendous one-two punch.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    TreVeyon Henderson, a 5-star recruit in the 2021 class, is the definite star of Ohio State's show.

    As a true freshman, he collected 1,255 yards on a 6.8 per-carry average and caught 27 passes for 312 yards. Henderson ranked No. 9 nationally with 19 touchdowns on the season, too.

    However, the Buckeyes also have a reliable backup in Miyan Williams, who scampered for 507 yards at an impressive 7.1 per-carry clip.

    That combination of both high-end production and efficiency from Henderson and Williams is a huge asset for Ohio State.

5. Texas Longhorns

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    There are few, if any, college running backs more talented than Texas standout Bijan Robinson.

    During his freshman year in 2020, the 5-star prospect held a modest role but produced with stellar efficiency. Robinson rushed for 703 yards at 8.2 per carry and reeled in 15 passes for 196 yards. That campaign set the stage for a breakout season in 2021.

    Robinson lived up to the enormous hype, even on a disappointing Texas team. He registered 1,127 yards on the ground, adding 26 receptions for 295 yards and scoring 15 total touchdowns.

    Texas has respectable depth, too. In 2022, the Longhorns return Roschon Johnson (589 yards, five TDs) and Keilan Robinson (322 yards, three TDs) behind their superstar back.

4. Utah Utes

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    The reigning Pac-12 champion, Utah boasts a well-balanced backfield with Tavion Thomas and Micah Bernard.

    Thomasas you'd expect from a 6'2", 221-pounderis a powerful runner who propelled the Utes with 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Since he only caught two passes, however, Utah needs a player with versatility to complement him.

    Bernard rushed for 529 yards at 6.1 per carry and made 26 receptions for 251 yards in 2021. After sharing the rotation with TJ Pledger last year, Bernard will be the No. 2 this season.

    Utah's depth includes LSU transfer Chris Curry, who memorably ran for 90 yards in a 2019 College Football Playoff win over Oklahoma. He served as Utah's fourth-stringer last season.

3. Appalachian State Mountaineers

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    The bad news for Appalachian State is its receiving corps must be rebuilt after three key departures. The good news is the backfield, once again, is absolutely stacked.

    Camerun Peoples rushed for 1,124 yards and 12 scores in 2020, then recorded 926 and 14, respectively, in 2021. Nate Noel contributed 310 yards as a backup two years ago, and he soared to a team-leading 1,126 with four touchdowns last season.

    As if that's not enough, App State isn't finished.

    Sixth-year senior Daetrich Harrington has 1,425 yards and 12 touchdowns in his college career despite two torn ACLs. Anderson Castle has managed 340 yards in two seasons as a backup, and transfer Ahmani Marshall (103 yards) showed some promise as a freshman at Wake Forest.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Shocker: Wisconsin made the cut.

    Known for churning out productive college backs, the program made two more additions to their lengthy list in 2021. Braelon Allen (1,268 yards, 12 TDs) and Chez Mellusi (815 yards, five TDs) were the foundation of Wisconsin's offense last season.

    If there's an asterisk, look at health. Mellusi is recovering from a torn left ACL, and Isaac Guerendo160 yards in just four appearances last year—is coming back from a Lisfranc injury in his left foot.

    Allen has already proved he can shoulder a heavy workload as the lead runner, which will be valuable as his teammates rehab. But it's a major luxury for the Badgers to have Mellusi and Guerendo, too.

1. Central Michigan Chippewas

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    Finding the right balance of carries for Lew Nichols III and Kobe Lewis will be tricky, but that's a lovely problem to face.

    Nichols landed MAC Freshman of the Year honors in 2020 after scampering for 508 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he exploded for an FBS-leading 1,848 yards and 16 touchdowns while Kobe Lewis missed the campaign with a knee injury.

    Lewis tallied 1,074 yards and 12 scores with 23 receptions for 164 yards in 2019. Then, he produced 574 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns in the shortened six-game 2020 season.

    Losing both offensive tackles to the NFL is a real concern, but Central has fantastic talent in the backfield.

              

    All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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