Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Ranking the SEC running backs
By Chris Low
Earlier, we ranked all 14 running back groups in the SEC. We'll take our stab now at ranking the top 10 running backs in the league heading into the 2013 season. Of note, we did not include LSU's Jeremy Hill in these rankings since he's currently suspended. There is a chance that he could be back at some point this season, which was taken into consideration in our position rankings.
1. Todd Gurley, So., Georgia: What's there not to like about Gurley? He's 220 pounds, has breakaway speed and doesn't go down easily. Go turn on the tape from his 122-yard performance against Alabama in the SEC championship game last season. He's the complete package.
T.J. Yeldon is among the SEC's most complete running backs.
2. T.J. Yeldon, So., Alabama: In just about any other conference, Yeldon would be No. 1. He has a straight-up-and-down running style and is as dangerous in the open field as he is gaining yards after contact. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield and is primed for a huge season in 2013.
3. Keith Marshall, So., Georgia: It's almost unfair that Georgia would have both Gurley and Marshall on the same roster. Marshall also has good size (216 pounds) and has blazing speed. Of Marshall's nine touchdowns last season, four were 50 yards or longer. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
4. LaDarius Perkins, RSr., Mississippi State: Under Dan Mullen, the Bulldogs have consistently produced a potent running game. The speedy Perkins was second in the SEC last season in all-purpose yardage, and will be looking for his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season.
5. Tre Mason, Jr. Auburn: Not a lot went right for Auburn last season, but Mason was one of the few bright spots with 1,002 rushing yards, much of that on sheer determination. Pushing 200 pounds, Mason has incredible acceleration and probably won't be asked to do as much this season with more depth in the Tigers' backfield.
6. Brandon Williams, RSo.., Texas A&M: He's this high for a reason. The Oklahoma transfer wowed everybody this spring, and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin readily admitted that the 192-pound Williams had an extra gear. He'll share the carries with steady Ben Malena, but Williams is a threat to hit the big one every time he touches it.
7. Matt Jones, So., Florida: The challenge for Jones was to become a more physical runner, and the Florida staff liked what they saw this spring. Jones is up to 230 pounds and hasn't lost a step. The Gators plan on feeding him the ball in 2013, and don't be surprised if he delivers with a breakout season.
8. Mike Davis, So., South Carolina: The Gamecocks also have a lot of confidence in Brandon Wilds, but Davis emerged from spring practice as the starter. He put on about 10 pounds and was able to get faster and stronger. Marcus Lattimore set a lofty standard, but Davis has everything it takes to be a star in his own right.
9. Henry Josey, RJr., Missouri: Granted, Josey is coming back from a completely reconstructed left knee that forced him to miss all of last season, but there was a lot of optimism about the way he ran the ball this spring. If he can come close to regaining his 2011 form, he could shoot right up these rankings.
10. Jeff Scott, Sr., Ole Miss: Scott has been Mr. Everything for the Rebels, and is coming off a junior season that saw him rush for 846 yards and also catch 23 passes. He runs bigger than his 5-7, 170-pound frame and possesses the kind of speed that turns missed tackles into touchdowns.