Power Ranking Top 25 College Football Running Backs 2016 Season
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After breaking down the top-25 quarterbacks in the country, it’s time to look at the best college football running backs of the 2016 season. These are the guys who not only takeover games but also have the ability to put the games on ice later in the fourth quarter. As you can expect, this position is absolutely loaded with game changers and Heisman candidates.
Here are the top-25 college football running backs in 2016.
USA TODAY Sports
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU - Arguably the best college football player at any position, Leonard Fournette is a man amongst boys. Fournette has an NFL skill set and is the sole reason LSU is a national championship contender this season.
2. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford - Christian McCaffrey was a Heisman finalist last season and finished second in the country with 2,019 rushing yards. One of the more versatile playmakers in the country, McCaffrey is a nightmare for opposing teams.
3. Dalvin Cook, Florida State - Despite missing a game, Dalvin Cook finished sixth last season with 1,691 rushing yards. Cook may be the fastest player in college football.
4. Nick Chubb, Georgia - Nick Chubb was averaging 124 rushing yards per game before he missed half the season with an injury. Now that he’s healthy, Chubb gives the Bulldogs a fighting chance against anyone in the SEC.
5. Royce Freeman, Oregon - Royce Freeman put Oregon on his back last season with 1,836 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Freeman adds physicality to a Ducks offense that’s been finesse for so many years.
6. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma - Samaje Perine is averaging 6.3 yards per carry for his career and has scored two or more touchdowns in nine of his 26 games.
7. Jalen Hurd, Tennessee - Jalen Hurd moved the chains on 60 of his 227 rushing attempts. Hurd is one of the more underrated players in the SEC.
8. Wayne Gallman, Clemson - Wayne Gallman was overshadowed by Deshaun Watson, but he still finished 13th in the country with 1,527 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns in Clemson’s two playoff games.
9. Shock Linwood, Baylor - Shock Linwood averaged nearly seven yards per carry and finished 26th in rushing yards despite having less than 200 carries. Linwood is a bright spot for a Baylor program going through to motions.
10. Elijah Hood, North Carolina - Elijah Hood scored at least one touchdown in 10 of his 14 games and moved the chains on 64 of his 219 carries. Hood is a reason UNC will be the surprise team in the ACC.
11. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State - Donnel Pumphrey is the ultimate workhorse, as he finished fourth in the country last season with 309 carries. Pumphrey had at least 90 rushing yards in his last 10 games.
12. Jeremy McNichols, Boise State - Jeremy McNichols finished last year with 20 rushing touchdowns, scoring at least once in every game. Boise State goes as far as McNichols’ takes it.
13. Justin Jackson, Northwestern - Justin Jackson finished 18th last season with 1,418 rushing yards and also produced 21 receptions. Jackson does everything for Northwestern and is the one playmaker to keep an eye on.
14. Saquon Barkley, Penn State - Saquon Barkley topped 1,000 rushing yards last season despite getting just 182 carries and running behind a brutal offensive line. Barkley has the potential for a monster sophomore season in Happy Valley.
15. James Conner, Pittsburgh - James Conner had more than 1,700 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in 2014. He missed last season due to an injury and cancer but is expected to play this season. Conner is a top-five running back in college football when 100 percent healthy.
16. Myles Gaskin, Washington - Myles Gaskin had six of his 14 touchdowns in his final two games last season and gives Washington a much-needed playmaker in an improved Pac-12.
17. Mike Warren, Iowa State - Mike Warren didn’t score much last season, but he did move the chains on 63 of his 227 carries. ISU now has a guy it can lean on offensively.
18. Larry Rose, New Mexico State - Larry Rose was eighth last season with 1,651 rushing yards and he had 22 runs of 20-plus yards. Rose is one of those playmakers who doesn’t get enough attention from college football fans.
19. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma - Joe Mixon averaged 6.6 yards per carry and scored on seven of his 113 touches. If Mixon wasn’t splitting time with Perine, he’d be a household name in college football.
20. Matt Breida, Georgia Southern - Matt Breida was 10th in the country last season with 1,608 rushing yards and had 10 touchdowns in his first five games. Breida is a game changer for the Eagles.
21. Ronald Jones II, USC - Ronald Jones II had nearly 1,000 rushing yards as a freshman despite splitting time with Justin Davis and Tre Madden. A heavier workload for Jones this season creates a breakout sophomore year.
22. Kareem Hunt, Toledo - Kareem Hunt missed three games last year and still had 973 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Hunt now has nearly 3,500 career rushing yards and is one of the more overlooked players in the country.
23. Sony Michel, Georgia - Sony Michel took over when Chubb got hurt, as he topped 1,100 rushing yards and scored in four of Georgia’s final five games. Michel and Chubb may be the best 1-2 running back punch in college football.
24. Elijah McGuire, UL Lafayette - Elijah McGuire nearly bolted for the NFL draft and now has a shot at three straight seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards. Not too many running backs run with the effortlessness of McGuire.
25. Marlon Mack, South Florida - In two seasons for South Florida, Marlon Mack has racked up 2,422 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Keep in mind he’s doing that being the gameplan for the defense. Imagine if Mack had consistent quarterback play.