Power Ranking Top 10 College Football Running Backs For 2015 Season
2015 College Football Season
July 29, 2015
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As we get closer to the 2015 college football season, it’s time to take a look at the top running backs.
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1. Nick Chubb, Georgia Bulldogs - Keep in mind that Nick Chubb finished 17th in the country in rushing yards as a freshman last season with 1,547 yards. Chubb carried the ball just 219 times, as he was splitting time with Todd Gurley. Chubb rushed for 14 touchdowns, had 18 runs of 20 or more yards and 62 of his carries produced a first down. Chubb also averaged nearly 12 yards per catch on 18 receptions. Chubb is very shifty in the open field, tough to tackle due to him being low to the ground and runs hard every play. It’s going to be fun seeing Chubb get a heavier workload now that he’s the main guy in this Georgia offense.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State Buckeyes - All you need to know is that Ezekiel Elliott rushed for nearly 700 yards and eight touchdowns in Ohio State’s final three games, all but putting the Buckeyes on his back to a national championship. Overall, Elliott rushed for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns. Elliott had 52 runs of at least 10 yards and had at least one rushing touchdown in every game except four contests. Elliott is one of a few college players who could thrive in the NFL right now, so it’ll be interesting to see how reckless he runs in likely his final season with OSU. Still, the Buckeyes lead back is a main reason they’re the favorites to repeat as national champs.
3. Leonard Fournette, LSU Tigers - Leonard Fournette was probably the most hyped running back coming out of high school since Adrian Peterson. Fournette has the size, speed, versatility, hands and anything else you look for in an elite running back for the next level. As a freshman, Fournette rushed for 1,034 yards on 187 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. Fournette was often running into stacked boxes due to little threat at the quarterback position. With a season under his belt and hopefully more production out of the QB, Fournette should have a monster sophomore year that puts LSU in the thick of the SEC this season.
4. Derrick Henry, Alabama Crimson Tide - I once called Derrick Henry a modern day Bo Jackson simply due to his overwhelming size, as guys with his build are usually playing linebacker. Henry is easily one of the tougher players to bring down in college football, which is why he averaged more than 10 yards per carry as a freshman and close to six yards as a sophomore. Overall, Henry has 1,372 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in two limited seasons at Alabama. Now, Henry is going to be the No. 1 option and should top 200 carries for the first time in his career. Watch out SEC. Watch out.
5. James Conner, Pittsburgh Panthers - Speaking of guys who are tough to bring down, James Conner is the definition of an old school back. Conner finished seventh last season with 1,765 rushing yards and third with 26 rushing touchdowns. Conner had 51 runs of at least 10 yards and scored at least one touchdown in all but two games. Conner never goes down on initial contact and always keeps his legs moving. Although Pittsburgh has some serious questions with a new coaching staff, Conner gives the Panthers a fighting chance against anybody in the ACC with his ability to takeover games by himself. Conner has topped 200 rushing yards four times in two seasons.
6. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma Sooners - Samaje Perine finished eighth in rushing yards with 1,713, and that’s with him getting just 32 combined carries in his first three games. Perine simply dominated the back end of the college football season, which included a college football record with 427 yards against Kansas. Perine had 21 touchdowns and 20 runs of 20 or more yards. Perine is a runaway freight train in the open field and has a second gear to pull away from defenders. Perine could top 2,000 rushing yards if he gets a slightly heavier workload in his second season with Oklahoma.
7. Dalvin Cook, Florida State Seminoles - Dalvin Cook was often overlooked due to Jameis Winston stealing all of the headlines, but we’re talking about a freshman back who topped 1,000 rushing yards on just 170 carries. Imagine what Cook can do as more of main guy in Florida State’s offense. Cook moved the chains on 46 of his carries and had 13 runs of 20 or more yards. Cook also caught 22 passes for 203 yards and can be one of the more versatile backs on this list. Elusive in space, Cook is one of the top playmakers in the ACC. Let’s just hope Cook’s off-the-field issues don’t ruin what looks to be a promising sophomore year.
8. Devontae Booker, Utah Utes - Devontae Booker rushed for 1,512 yards and 10 touchdowns, and that’s while often being the only real threat in Utah’s offense. Booker runs extremely hard and seems to get better as the game goes along. Booker had to run through many stacked boxes last season and still managed to rack up 35 runs of 10 or more yards while moving the chains 62 times. Booker also had 42 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns. I consider Booker a legit dark horse Heisman candidate, especially if he can help put Utah in the Pac-12 title conversation.
9. Jordan Howard, Indiana Hoosiers - The Indiana Hoosiers hit a homerun, as they have Jordan Howard, a UAB transfer, replacing a 2,000-yard rusher in Tevin Coleman. Last year with the Blazers, Howard rushed for 1,587 yards and 13 touchdowns on 306 carries. Howard had 50 runs of 10 or more yards and picked up a first down 87 times. Howard is a downright playmaker who has 15 runs of 20-plus yards in two seasons, and he’s a threat to score anytime he has the football. Indiana is a sneaky good team in the Big Ten this season, and a lot of that hype starts with Howard at running back.
10. Paul Perkins, UCLA Bruins - You know you’re pretty talented when you’re averaging more than six yards per carry on 251 touches. That’s what Paul Perkins did in his second season with the UCLA Bruins. Perkins finished 15th in the country with 1,575 rushing yards and scored two big touchdowns in the Bruins bowl win over Kansas State. Perkins moved the chains on 67 of his carries and caught 26 passes, proving he’s the ultimate threat in the backfield. With UCLA bringing in a new quarterback, Perkins has a chance to really prove his worth with an expanded workload.