Maybe we should change the top two spots in the SEC’s running back rankings to 1A and 1B as we determine where to place Alabama’s Derrick Henry, who led the nation with 2,219 rushing yards, and LSU’s Leonard Fournette, whose average of 162.8 rushing yards per game topped the FBS rankings.
We’ll give Henry the nod here in order to rank the conference’s top backs from 1-10, but we can’t lose with either choice. Here are those two, plus the other top runners from around the SEC:
1. Derrick Henry, Alabama: The Heisman Trophy winner set a new SEC record for rushing yards in a season and also led the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns. His durability was unreal, as he carried the ball more than 30 times in five games – including enormous workloads in Alabama’s last two games before voters filed their Heisman ballots (46 carries for 271 yards against Auburn and 44 for 189 in the SEC championship game against Florida).
2. Leonard Fournette, LSU: The star sophomore posted the best season by any back in LSU history, rushing for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns in 12 games en route to leading the nation in rushing ypg. He might have won the Heisman if not for an unproductive outing against Alabama’s fearsome defense, but there is no arguing Fournette’s status as the SEC’s most explosive runner in 2015.
3. Alex Collins, Arkansas: Leading rusher Jonathan Williams went down before the season even started, but backfield mate Collins proved capable of taking over much of Williams’ workload. The junior carried the ball nearly 200 times more than anyone else on Arkansas’ roster, finishing the fall with 271 totes for 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns.
4. Jalen Hurd, Tennessee: After a strong freshman season, Hurd was even better as a sophomore. He led the Volunteers with 1,288 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and posted 100-plus rushing yards in six games – including each of the last three.
5. Sony Michel, Georgia: Michel would have been a key player for Georgia regardless, but his role changed considerably once starter Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending injury at the midway point. Michel became the centerpiece of the Bulldogs’ offense and handled that responsibility beautifully, posting a team-high 1,161 rushing yards plus 270 receiving.
6. Kelvin Taylor, Florida: Thanks to quarterback turmoil, the Gators’ offense floundered for much of the second half of the season, but Taylor still ranked among their more consistent performers. He rushed for 1,035 yards and scored 13 touchdowns before jumping to the NFL at season’s end.
7. Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt: While the Commodores’ offense is not much to write home about, Webb remains one of the SEC’s most underrated backs. The sophomore deserved more attention than he received as one of Vandy’s few dangerous offensive players. He led the team with 1,152 rushing yards and tied for third with 24 receptions for 188 yards.
8. Tra Carson, Texas A&M: Although quarterback Kyler Murray provided a spark on the occasions where he played, Carson essentially was the Aggies’ running game. The senior rushed for 1,165 yards and topped the 100-yard mark seven times (including five of the last six games). Carson handled 48 percent of A&M’s rushing attempts and was responsible for 53 percent of its rushing yardage.
9. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee: The versatile Kamara was a perfect complement for Hurd, rushing for 698 yards, totaling 291 receiving yards and even scoring once as an occasional punt returner. Kamara played well enough to consider jumping to the NFL, but he ultimately decided to remain at Tennessee and help the Vols maintain one of the conference’s top 1-2 backfield punches.
10. Nick Chubb, Georgia: The SEC would have had another running back figure into the Heisman picture if Chubb had not suffered a season-ending knee injury at the start of Game 6 against Tennessee. He still totaled 747 rushing yards and averaged 8.1 ypc in less than half a season of action and deserves a spot in the top 10 even if this ended as a what-if season for the superstar sophomore.