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Running Back


Yes, Alabama has a starting tailback that won the Heisman Trophy. Mark Ingram had the best season of any running back in the history of Alabama last fall. That is usually enough to win this type of honor. Yet, Bama coaches have said this spring that his tailback partner Trent Richardson might be just as good and that this offense does not miss a step when he is in the game. The highly ranked Florida prospect out of Pensacola managed to rush for 751 yards last year as a true freshman (compared to Ingram's 1,658 yards). No question, this is the top ranked running back tandem in America. Even more amazing, neither will be seniors in 2010.


The Florida ground game has received plenty of criticism over the last few years. And the team's leading rusher (Tim Tebow) has finally moved on. So how do they rank so high going into 2010? The Gators don't have a superstar carrying the ball...they have three of them. When the carries get split, locating a 1,000-yard gainer can be difficult. Don't get fooled, the Sunshine State produces skill athletes and Florida rakes in the best. Jeffery Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody were all considered the best at their position coming out of high school. Demps is a speed burner (won the SEC championship in the 100 meters) averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Moody is a former Parade All-American USC transfer and Rainey racked up over 7,000 prep career yards. Despite all this, coach Meyer managed to sign the top back in the state of Georgia in Mack Brown this recruiting season.

Virginia Tech

Hokie running back coach Billy Hite calls this the best group in his 32 years of coaching the Hokies. He has an All-American type in young Ryan Williams who put up astronomical numbers (1,655 yards, 22 touchdowns) as a frosh last fall. Williams was not the projected starter last August though. Darren Evans was coming off ACC Freshman of the Year honors before a torn ACL in summer camp ended his season. But Evans now looks to be in full health running over defenders like before. This is an amazing duo with tons of promise and is easily the strongest element on this team.


The Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year is back for another season. Big man John Clay (6-1, 248) is looking to extend the great Wisconsin running back tradition. Clay did not even start five of the first six games in 2009, yet he wound up as the league's leading rusher finishing with six consecutive 100-yard games. In this run dominated system there are other backs to choose from too. Senior Zach Brown started five games last fall and has 1,152 career rushing yards on his resume. The third option is Montee Ball who really came on strong to close out his freshman campaign a year ago which included a 115-yard performance versus Indiana and a solid showing in the Outback Bowl win over Miami. The Badgers will be successful running the pigskin no matter which of the three take the stage.


What a turnaround a year makes. To start last season, no one was quite sure who would step in for the departed LeSean McCoy. The answer came from the nation's frosh sensation Dion Lewis, who gained 1,799 yards and averaged a hearty 25 carries a game. His total yards were second only to Pitt legend Tony Dorsett's 1976 Heisman Trophy performance. Another sophomore Ray Graham is set to be another dominant fixture in the Panther rushing attack after averaging 5.7 yards per carry last fall. Coach Wannstedt has already stated his offense needs to find a way to get Graham the ball more. These two create a formidable duo and they get plenty of help from 260 pound Henry Hynoski at fullback paving the way.


Just Missed: Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Utah, West Virginia