College Football Recruiting 2011: Where Are the Top 10 Running Backs Headed?
As we wrap up the 2011 college football recruiting season, we'll be breaking down the top talent at every position on the field and telling you where all of the nation's most prized recruits are headed. And we'll start with one of the most high-profile positions of them all.
Check out where this year's top 10 running backs will be playing college football in 2011.
10. Mike Blakely, Florida
Blakely might be on the small side, but he makes up for it with an elusive style of rushing and great cut-back ability.
He's a 4-star running back, but he's also a serious receiving threat out of the backfield and has great hands that open up the passing game with constant dump-offs and fade routes that are difficult to contain.
The latest current addition to Florida's 2011 recruiting class, Blakely committed in late October. And while others have shown signs of balking at their decisions in the wake of Urban Meyer's resignation, Blakely has stayed firm.
9. Kenny Hilliard, LSU
Hilliard has a great power game and seemingly breaks tackles at will. If you're looking for a north-south runner, he's your guy. Hilliard won't make a lot of fancy moves, but he's a smart player with great instincts who hits his holes hard and fast.
He doesn't have the breakaway speed you like to see from top running back prospects, but he's a decisive runner who gets the most out of each carry.
One of the first members of LSU's 2011 class, Hilliard was one of four players who committed to the Tigers back in 2009.
8. Herschel Sims, Oklahoma State
Commitment: Oklahoma State
He's the definition of a home run hitter and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the country. It seems like he only plays better the bigger the stage gets. He gains momentum throughout a game rather than wearing down like some backs.
Sims is on the small side at a generous listing of 5'9" and 190 lbs, but when you're drawing comparisons to LaDainian Tomlinson, that isn't something to be too worried about.
The headliner of Oklahoma State's 2011 recruiting class, Sims committed to the Cowboys in April.
7. Brandon Williams, Oklahoma
Williams is a great all-around running back who contributes not only in the running game, but also as a legitimate weapon in the passing game. He doesn't have elite size or speed, but makes up for it with a gamer's mentality and playing style.
The biggest question about his game is his ability to break tackles: As it stands now, he often goes down on first contact.
Originally committed to Baylor, Williams changed his mind and joined up with Oklahoma in April.
6. Savon Huggins, Uncommitted
There's no one from the 2011 class who can juke quite like Savon Huggins. He has such a broad array of moves that you really never know what he's going to do on any given play.
When you watch him play, you immediately think of Barry Sanders. He's got the vision, the balance, the change-of-direction ability and an unwillingness to go down.
Huggins remains uncommitted. Though Notre Dame and Rutgers are the favorites to sign him at the moment, Auburn and USC have come on strong as of late.
5. Mike Bellamy, Clemson
Bellamy is considered to be one of the top prospects of the 2011 class. He's a top-five running back on pretty much every list that matters and is one of the fastest prospects in the state of Florida—clocking in at 4.3 seconds on his 40 time.
He's a playmaker who will light up scoreboards and burn defenders regularly. Bellamy is incredibly elusive and has tremendous balance and body control.
Bellamy is part of Clemson's stellar offensive group of talent that also includes 5-star receivers Charone Peake and Sammy Watkins, as well 4-star running back Marlin Lane and 4-star tight end Eric MacLain.
4. Isaiah Crowell, Uncommitted
He has great breakaway speed, is very elusive, has top-of-the-line instincts, makes lightning-fast cuts, doesn't hesitate and can break tackles with the best of them.
Crowell has played with a talented stable of rushers his entire high school career behind a very good offensive line. But he's never carried the load himself and there are serious questions about his ability to do just that.
Crowell has narrowed his choices down to Alabama and Georgia and is expected to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-American Game in January.
3. Aaron Green, Nebraska
Aaron Green is the complete package when it comes to running backs. He runs with purpose, can make the first man miss, gets downfield in a hurry and breaks tackles with surprising speed.
He's undersized at 5'11", 185 lbs, so he needs to bulk up or he just won't stay in one piece at the next level, but that's about all there is not to like about this kid.
Green committed to Nebraska over Texas, Florida State and Cal back in October.
2. De'Anthony Thomas, USC
This one might be a little bit of a cheat because Thomas' future is at cornerback first and running back second. At 5'9" and 170 lbs, he might not have the size to hold up as a running back at the college level, but he definitely has the skill-set to be a force.
He's a legitimate 5-star prospect on either side of the field. Thomas' vision, speed, elusiveness, balance and surprising power make him one of the most dangerous rushers in the country. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see him play both ways at the next level.
Thomas went back and forth between a solid verbal and a soft verbal to USC until eventually settling permanently on the Trojans in May.
1. Malcolm Brown, Texas
Brown is the premier rusher of the class and a near-ideal prospect for the position. He's a powerful rusher that will put his shoulder down and punish defenders, wearing them down as the game goes on.
He won't wow you with his speed, but as a downhill rusher he's about as impressive as they come. Brown explodes into defenders, has great vision, subtle but quick movements, and breaks tackles at an eye-popping rate.
Brown chose Texas over Oklahoma in August and instantly became the Longhorns' top overall recruit with the decision.