RANKINGS - RUNNING BACKS
Its not just talent that can make a unit special, it also takes valuable
playing experience. The Auburn Tigers aren't short in either category.
Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is the most notable player of
the group. The 2001 freshman All-American has shown big-time ability,
yet hasn't finished a season healthy yet. Ronnie Brown (1000, 13 TDs)
got the start for the 2nd half and carried the load for the injured
Williams. Tre Smith (454) also saw action and chipped in with 126
of them vs. Alabama. As if that wasn't enough depth, Auburn also acquired
the services of 6'4'', 255-pound Brandon Jacobs, a JUCO transfer with
Why #1? - Too much depth and talent to be placed anywhere else.
Is there a more consistent running back then Anthony Davis? After
rushing for 1500+ over each of the last two seasons, the 5'8'' dynamo
will try to repeat that feat for the 3rd straight year. That won't
be easy, though, with Dwayne Smith (552, 5 yds-per-rush) looking
to take away his carries. The true sophomore had a superb performance
vs. Illinois in Davis' absence.
Why #2? - This could be the most consistent 1-2 punch in the country.
If one goes down the other simply picks up right where the other
No unit in the
country means more to their team than Colorado's. Last year's #1
Backfield lost the services of Chris Brown and Marcus Houston, but
that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare. For the first time, Bobby
Purify can now get out of the shadows of previous starters and shine.
His career 5.9 yards per carry average and soft hands can now be
optimally utilized. Also in the mix will be sophomore sensation
Brian Calhoun. Calhoun burst onto the seen last year with 259 of
his 314 yards vs. conference foes Nebraska and Oklahoma in relief
of a banged up Chris Brown and Bobby Purify.
Why #3? - Both usually show up big whenever they get their carries
but each has been known to disappear every once in a great while.
Not many schools
can boast 3 blue-chip high school standouts all on the same backfield;
fortunately for Tennessee, they can. Cedric Houston (779) took over
as Tennessee's first option by rushing for most of his yards in
the season's 2nd half. Jabari Davis on the other hand will continue
to take a role as the bruiser of the two. His presence as a short
yardage back was surely felt with his team leading 10 touchdowns
and 4.6 yards per carry average. Providing depth will be Gerald
Riggs Jr who will look to contribute more this year as a possible
Why #4? - In the past, some inconsistency hampered the unit, but
for the most part, they played well while Cedric Houston was cemented
as the #1 guy.
was not only a freshman All-American, but apparently he was also
the Buckeyes' team MVP. Despite missing out or partially playing
in a handful of games, Clarett still managed to rush for 1237 yards
and an even more impressive 5.6 yards a carry. Backing up Clarett
has been the combination of Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall. Contrary
to popular opinion, the duo would not start on most teams, but both
running backs have been serviceable for Ohio State in Clarett's
Why #5? While there are very few in Clarett's class, the backups
weren't exactly potent while he was unable to play.
Missed: Florida State
If not for a
late season knee injury to Greg Jones, we would be talking about
a Top 3 backfield in Tallahassee. Picking up the slack during Jones'
rehab will be the young duo of Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker.
Washington has the early advantage do to the invaluable experience
he gained last season. His 134-yard performance against Florida
could be a sign of things to come from the young star, but don't
count out Booker. The redshirt freshman has looked very impressive
in spring workouts and will probably take over Nick Maddox's role
as the quicker and more agile change of pace.
Could be there: Notre Dame
How do you improve
on a backfield that already has a 1000-yard rusher and a young,
mobile quarterback with over 1000 rushing yards of his own? You
do it by adding star running back Julius Jones. After taking a year
off for academic reasons, Jones looks to be bigger and faster than
before, which should make a sometimes-stagnant offense more explosive
from the ground.