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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Top-5 running backs comparisons

By Tom Luginbill

As each and every new evaluation period begins for our staff, we always try and use today’s college football stars and apply some of their best traits when describing the next generation of prospects. All prospects are different from one another, but many share similar characteristics that stand out in relation to their styles. We begin this series taking a look at the top-5 running backs in this class and which college players they remind us of at this time.

Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette's all-around skill set compares favorably to Georgia's Todd Gurley.
RB Leonard Fournette -- Georgia RB Todd Gurley: This is a tough one because very few players possesses the total package that Fournette does. But then again, very few players are on par with Todd Gurley from a skill-set standpoint. We must admit however that Fournette, in our opinion, is faster and maybe more of a home run threat. Their stature, power, galloping style and ability to press the hole is uncanny. An upright running style, yet with a forward lean at all times is very difficult to accomplish. Close your eyes and think of the two in a downhill scheme. Pretty comparable huh?

RB Sony Michel -- Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk: When making this comparison, we would not have chosen Seastrunk had it been the Seastrunk we saw out of high school. That player shied away from contact and lacked a physical nature. However, this Seastrunk has grown, matured and physically developed. He is what we now see in Michel. The key to Michel is staying healthy. He is low to the ground with a thick lower body that can not only jump cut in confined spaces like Seastrunk, but he also generates power to create yards after contact.

RB Joseph Yearby -- Miami RB Duke Johnson: Juke and jive, this is what Johnson and Yearby possess together. Their ability to make people miss and reach top speed rapidly after the first cut is impressive. Also, there is a difference between being short and being small. Both are short, but not necessarily small. There is enough lower body strength in those wheels to break arm tackles and slither through tiny creases. These guys are scatbacks with an every-down durability to their game. Few players can hit the cutback in the zone scheme like these two.

RB Dalvin Cook -- Georgia RB Keith Marshall: If Florida State's Ryan Green was already playing, he would be our comparison, but Marshall will do just fine. Cook is dynamic, and Marshall is dynamic. Cook has ball skills, and Marshall has ball skills. Both are at their best when in space and when lining up in a variety of alignments to create offensive mismatches. Marshall shares a backfield with Todd Gurley and Cook shares one with Joseph Yearby, and both pairs offer a change-of-pace to the other.

RB Racean Thomas -- Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon: These two are galloping long striders who do not lack for explosive big-play ability. Tall and upright, both Thomas and Gordon can really go when on a straight line. They are one-cut, downhill runners who can hit the crease and get to the second level rapidly, given their size. Thomas will be in a dramatically different offensive scheme at Auburn than Gordon is at Wisconsin. But Wisconsin finds way to use Gordon’s speed on the perimeter, and Auburn’s run game loves to feature the edge and turn the corner for its backs.