SEC position rankings: Running backs

August, 20, 2009
8/20/09
7:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

We turn our attention to the running backs in the league. There's not one great one, but there's a bunch of good ones:

1. LSU: Bruising Charles Scott is back after rushing for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, and he'll have plenty of support. Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy are both quality backs in their own right, and Trindon Holliday is one of the fastest players in college football.

2. Arkansas: The Hogs have running backs (good ones) coming out of their ears. Michael Smith is back after rushing for 1,072 yards last season. He'll have a lot more help, too. Broderick Green, a 245-pound transfer from Southern California, gives them a bigger option in short-yardage situations, while freshmen Knile Davis and Ronnie Wingo can do a little bit of everything. Don't forget about Dennis Johnson and De'Anthony Curtis, either.

3. Florida: The Gators don't have a bunch of conventional tailback types, but Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey are perfect for that offense. Give them a step, and they're gone. Throw Brandon James into that mix as well. If Emmanuel Moody can get over his injury blahs, he also has a chance to play a big role this season.

4. Alabama: One of the keys is Roy Upchurch being healthy. If he is, and freshman Trent Richardson comes through the way the coaches are hoping, the Crimson Tide will have another three-pronged attack. Mark Ingram rushed for 728 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season as a freshman.

5. Mississippi State: Don't sleep on the Bulldogs. Anthony Dixon has looked great in the preseason He's the SEC's active career leader in rushing with 2,603 yards. He's in the best shape of his career and has some guys behind him -- Christian Ducre and Robert Elliott -- who will help keep him fresh.

6. Auburn: Ben Tate is one of the best workhorses in the league. You can run him until he's dragging, and he's still going to be running over people. True freshman Onterio McCalebb is a pure speed back, and the wildcard for the Tigers is Mario Fannin, who will bounce around to different spots.

7. Ole Miss: It will be interesting to see how the rotation shakes out at Ole Miss. Brandon Bolden is the No. 1 guy right now, but Cordera Eason has looked a step faster in the preseason. Enrique Davis has a world of talent, and the coaches really like sophomore Devin Thomas and true freshman Tim Simon.

8. Tennessee: The Vols have the potential to be outstanding in the backfield, but there are a couple of ifs. As in if senior Montario Hardesty can stay healthy and if freshmen Bryce Brown and David Oku are as good as they've looked in the preseason. The Vols are also pretty strong at fullback.

9. Georgia: Caleb King has yet to live up to his billing. For one, he can't seem to stay healthy. Richard Samuel enters the season as the starter, and Carlton Thomas will be the third-down back. True freshman Washaun Ealey may end up being the best of the bunch.

10. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have several guys with promise, but nobody who's really done it consistently. Freshman Jarvis Giles went through spring practice and may be that home run-hitter South Carolina has lacked in its backfield the last few seasons.

11. Vanderbilt: Jared Hawkins is coming off foot surgery and will get some help in the form of three freshmen. Zac Stacy, Wesley Tate and Warren Norman have all made bids to play this preseason and probably will.

12. Kentucky: Starter Alfonso Smith has been plagued by a foot injury that won't seem to go away, and there are no guarantees with Derrick Locke as he tries to come back from a serious knee injury. Get ready to see one or both of the freshmen the Wildcats signed -- Donald Russell and Jonathan George.

Chris Low | email

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