Best of the Bunch: Running Backs
Written by Curt Popejoy on 07/15/2010
Running back is a position that it seems no matter how many guys end up in the NFL, there are always a load of talented ball carriers to light up our Saturdays. This year is no exception. Because of this, it makes putting a top ten units together, much less picking a best unit all the more difficult. One thing I had to consider is depth. Just like in the NFL, the days of the feature back are rare. Most teams platoon two backs and in some cases 3. They use complimentary players, and specialists to help round out their rush offense. So if you are a team like Oklahoma with a great talent like Demarco Murray and a bunch of untested guys behind him, you aren’t going to be in the hunt for the top.
But let’s all be honest here. There are really only 2 teams that have multiple proven players who can put up big numbers. That doesn’t mean 3-10 aren’t great, because they are. But if I am a coach, these are the two groups I chose and it’s really close as to who is better.
First I want to talk about Virginia Tech. In 2008, Hokie fans thought that had their back of the future in Darren Evans. He came out in 2008 and killed it for over 1,250 yards as a Freshman. He had ideal size and speed and figured to only get better and better. Then last August in practice he tears his ACL and the Hokies scramble to recover. And thanks to another Freshman, Ryan Williams, recover they did. He topped Evans by rushing for over 1,650 yards and a staggering 22tds. This year, it looks like Evans will be back and healthy, so who these two backs will be used will be interesting. I suspect it’s going to be a big dose of Williams with just enough Evans tossed in to keep everyone happy. It wouldn’t shock me to see the tandem approach 3,000 and 28tds between them.
The only other real contender in this race for me is the University of Alabama. I mean really. The team boasts the Heisman Trophy winner in Mark Ingram who as a Sophomore rushed for over 1,650 yards and 17tds. All that whilst showing to be a real workhorse and getting stronger as games, and the season, went on. The thing is, there are a lot of college football fans who don’t think Ingram is the most talented back on the roster. That would be Sophomore Trent Richardson. Now, I won’t go so far as to say that Richardson deserved to be the feature back last year, but while I consider Ingram a really good NFL prospect, Richardson’s combination of size and speed and his agility, which is much better than Ingram’s, makes him a truly special player. I respect that Coach Saban gave Ingram the bulk of the workload last year, but regardless of what happens this season, I think he has to give Richardson more touches. He’s just too talented not to.
When I first started thinking about all this, I had no idea it would be as hard to decide between the two as it was. After going back and watching Evans run in 2008, you remember just how special a player he was and his potential. The deciding factor for me is health. While all reports are he’s back and full strength, the idea that he may not be leaves me a little leery to put the Hokies tandem ahead of the pair from Alabama. So this season, the Alabama Crimson Tide running backs are the Best of the Bunch.
The rest of my top ten
10. Georgia Tech
Last Edited: 07/05/2010