Wednesday, March 17, 2010
ACC loaded with bruising backs
By ESPN.com staff
Despite the departures of former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and former Georgia Tech B-back Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC should have no shortage of 1,000-yard rushers this season. Three of the top five rushers from a year ago return, and each of them surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. But don't forget about the return of injured stars Darren Evans and Da'Rel Scott.
For the first time in its 57-year history, the conference will have five returning players who each gained over 1,000 yards rushing in a single season:
- Virginia Tech redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams -- His 1,655 yards last fall was the third-best single-season mark in ACC history.
- Boston College junior Montel Harris -- His 1,457 yards last fall was the sixth-best single-season mark in league history.
- Virginia Tech redshirt junior Darren Evans -- He ran for 1,265 yards in 2008 before sitting out all of 2009 with a torn ACL.
- Maryland senior Da’Rel Scott -- He ran for 1,133 yards in 2008 before missing the majority of 2009 with a broken wrist.
- Georgia Tech senior quarterback Josh Nesbitt -- He ran for 1,037 yards and passed Clemson’s Woodrow Dantzler for the second-most single-season rushing yards by an ACC quarterback.
The biggest question for this group is what kind of numbers Evans and Williams will produce when used together and sharing the carries. We've seen what they can do when they're not sharing the spotlight. Of the aforementioned players, Harris should have the best offensive line to work with.
Here are the ACC's top three backs with the best chance to join the 1,000-yard club in 2010:
- Georgia Tech B-back Anthony Allen -- He will take over for Dwyer in an offense geared to produce another 1,000-yard rusher.
- Clemson running back Andre Ellington -- If Ellington would have had the 216 carries Spiller got last year, he would have racked up 1,555 yards based on his 7.2 yards per carry average.
- Florida State running back Jermaine Thomas -- FSU was 3-1 when Thomas ran for 100 yards or more, and he racked up four 100-yard rushing performances in his final six games.