Top 5 RBs for 2011

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
10:30
AM ET
There's usually at least one question on the weekly chat that's worthy of a separate post, and Ryan from Florida wanted to know who the top five running backs will be this year. The position isn't as loaded or experienced as it has been in recent years, but there's still a good mix of young and proven talent to choose from. Here are the spring predictions for who the top five running backs will be in the ACC this year:

[+] EnlargeBoston College's Montel Harris
AP Photo/Michael DwyerBoston College's Montel Harris is the top returning running back in the ACC.
1. Montel Harris, Boston College: It has to start with Harris, who has been one of the most dependable, durable running backs in the conference. He's one of the most experienced returning to the position, and is the leading returning rusher in the ACC at 103.6 yards per game, but when he was injured, we learned there is a capable young replacement in Andre Williams. With quarterback Chase Rettig in his second season as a starter and more help in the backfield, Harris shouldn't have to carry the offense on his shoulders again. It's possible his carries decrease and so do his numbers in 2011, but he's got to start at the top based on what he's accomplished so far.

2. David Wilson, Virginia Tech: The departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans leave Wilson the most experienced player in the Hokies' backfield. He's one of the most explosive runners in the conference, as evidenced by his 26.5 yards per kickoff return, but he'll be expected to carry the load for Virginia Tech's running game this year.

3. Lamar Miller, Miami: I know, I know, I said Storm Johnson on the chat, and that's because he was at the top of the depth chart released Tuesday. One of those guys is going to have a breakout season, but based on what I've been told, Miller is the guy to watch. He could be the next great running back at Miami, but it's not a surprise to see Johnson pushing him.

4. Andre Ellington, Clemson:With Jamie Harper gone, Ellington will get the bulk of the carries, and as long as he stays healthy, he has the speed and explosiveness to be one of the most productive backs in the ACC. Through seven games last year, Ellington ranked 10th in the nation in scoring with 12 touchdowns and had four 100-yard rushing games, including 22 carries for 140 yards against eventual national champion Auburn. Coach Dabo Swinney called Ellington's return "as important as any aspect of our football team."

5. Chris Thompson, Florida State:He's a home run threat, but he's also in a crowded backfield that includes Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones and true freshman Devonta Freeman. Thompson averaged 6.4 yards per carry last year and almost 900 yards, but will he separate from the pack this year?

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