Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Sometimes those opinions are just wrong.
Maybe we were even off base at points last week when we tried to nail down the SEC’s top five players at each position over the last decade. In some cases, the SEC blog’s readers let us know just how wrong we were – and so we decided to chime in with our own thoughts this week.
Each day this week, we will revisit those position rankings, with one of our SEC writers discussing his thoughts on the position with the colleague who came up with the original top five.
Concerning the running backs, ESPN SEC writer David Ching agrees with many of the commenters on last week’s post: Edward Aschoff picked the wrong Georgia player when he included Knowshon Moreno in the top five over Todd Gurley:
David Ching: We’ve already joked around about this, so it’s clear you already know where you screwed up here. You really left off Gurley and ranked Knowshon second? I covered every game of Knowshon’s college career and most of Gurley’s and acknowledge they both were electric talents. But Gurley was the best college running back I’ve watched in person – and I’ve seen every guy on your list – until Leonard Fournette circa 2015.
I don’t disagree with keeping Darren McFadden first. He had a better body of work than Gurley, who missed big chunks of two seasons at Georgia. However, I’d still place Gurley second on the list and drop Knowshon out of the top five. Gurley could do everything that Knowshon could do, and he was bigger and faster.
Fournette and Nick Chubb will probably alter your list by the end of the year, too. I already think of Fournette as a better back than both Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, but he does not have the championships or Heisman Trophies that those guys do. If he posts numbers this fall that are anything like what he had as a sophomore, though, Fournette might make a run at dethroning McFadden for the top spot.
Edward Aschoff: Yep, I totally messed up with Gurley. And Georgia fans let me have it. But I’m adult enough to know when I made a mistake. Gurley was one of the best players I ever saw live, but I must say that Moreno had waaaaaay more wiggle and athleticism. He was more exciting to watch, hands down, but that doesn’t mean he was a better player. That’s on me, and Gurley should have been in the top five. If I could go back I’d put him third. I really messed up there.
I’d still keep Henry above Gurley for the simple fact that he broke the SEC single-season rushing record and he also had to deal with being a backup for two seasons. Gurley took over as a freshman and was the guy from there on out. An NCAA suspension and that unfortunate ACL injury cut his junior year short, so who knows what he would have done with more time?
I flirted with putting Trent Richardson on over Ingram because I personally thought he was a better, more complete player, but Ingram’s Heisman swayed me.
Ching: I wouldn’t have disagreed at all if you went with Richardson over Ingram. In truth, I didn’t even include Ingram on my Heisman ballot in 2009, but I gave Richardson a first-place vote in 2011.
I thought Richardson was the superior runner the entire time they were on the same roster, although Richardson’s pro career certainly has not validated my opinion in the slightest. I also don’t think Henry can hold a candle to Fournette – who is a once-in-a-generation talent – but time will tell there.
I guess it’s only fair to give the nod to the guys with the hardware, and Richardson and Fournette don't have the resumes that Ingram and Henry do. Not yet anyway. Let’s have this conversation again in a few months after we see what Leonard accomplishes in 2016.