2009 College Football Top 10 Running Backs

July 25th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

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College football today is composed of countless teams using spread offenses and relying on passing games to rack up a load of points against opponents. Far from the old roots of football that was led by ground and pound rushing attacks. Today’s game is based mostly around teams that spread the field with 4 and 5 wide receivers and try to stretch out defenses before picking them apart. However, look at any championship caliber team and you can bet they have a strong running game. The rushing game will always be the best offense when used effectively because it allows a team to take control of the clock along with taking control of field position in tight games. Even though the hard core rushing offenses seem to have vanished in today’s game, there are still a load of players who have the ability to rack up big chunks of yards on every play. These players give their teams an edge that most do not possess; the ability to not only break big plays, but keep opposing offenses off the field. Keep your eyes on these guys for the upcoming football season as we break down the best running backs in the nation.

#1 Jahvid Best (California)

Jahvid Best is not only the best running back in college football, but he also has the best chance to be a big name at the next level. Best has a raw combination of quickness and immeasurable strength giving him the ability to run through defenses. Best was extremely impressive in his first full season as starter for the Golden Bears rushing for 1,580 yards to go along with 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. Best averaged a lucrative 8.1 yards per carry and broke California’s single game rushing record against Washington bulldozing his way to 311 yards. If it was not for Heisman winners Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford returning, Best would be right in the middle of the talk for winning the Heisman Trophy this season. Expect nothing less than a huge year from the Golden Bears running back as California makes a run at a Pac-10 title.

#2 Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State)

Kendall Hunter had a big season in 2008 rushing for 1,555 yards and 16 scores making numerous big plays. Hunter who resides in the pass happy region of the college football world, led the Big 12 in rushing yards. Add to the fact, Hunter will be a part of one of the most explosive offenses in the nation this season and things are looking very promising. Hunter probably has the quickest cutback of any tailback on our board and can bust plays open quickly. Expect Hunter to be a big reason, the Cowboys have a lot of success in 2009 and just maybe come up with a big upset or two.

# 3 Jonathon Dwyer (Georgia Tech)

The option style offense the Yellow Jackets turned to last season may have been a nightmare if they did not have the talented Jonathon Dwyer in the backfield. Dwyer took over 200 carries cashing in for 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets entire offense was based around the running game and defenses knew it making Dwyer’s numbers a bit more impressive. During the time that defenses keyed in on the running game, Dwyer’s numbers actually picked up during the latter part of the season giving promising hope to 2009. Dwyer who has a knack for shaking off tacklers led the ACC in rushing in 2008. Anticipating how many carries he is likely to get in 2009, it looks to be another big season for the Yellow Jackets star player.

# 4 Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State)

So who here remembers the Beavers upset over the USC Trojans last season? If you do then you probably remember a small freshman sensation by the name of Jacquizz Rodgers slicing through the best defense in the country. Rodgers had a big season in his freshman campaign rushing for 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns. Possibly the best sophomore in the country heading into this season, Rodgers averaged 114 yards per game in his first year at Oregon State. Expect the 5’7 little guy to improve on those numbers this season and become one of the best tailbacks in the Pac 10.

# 5 Evan Royster (Penn State)

Evan Royster was a big part to the Nittany Lions success in 2009 that had them in National Title contention for the majority of the year. Royster exploded onto the scene racking up 6.5 yards per carry in route to a plus 1,200 yard season. The Nittany Lions offense was a well balanced machine last year with Royster in the back field and Daryll Clark delivering the air assault. However, Penn State lost big time receivers Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, and Derrick Williams. The big losses at wide out means the Nittany Lions will give Royster a big increase in carries and we expect no less than 1,500 yards from the best back in the Big Ten.

#6 MiQuale Lewis (Ball State)

MiQuale Lewis is probably the least known name on our board, but surprisingly one of the best on the board as well. Lewis ranked 3rd individually last season tallying up 1,736 yards on the season. Lewis put up those impressive numbers as a junior and there will be big expectations for him again in 2009. The Cardinals running back already led the nation last year with 22 touchdowns. Imagine if those numbers were to improve. Some may argue that Lewis is in a weak defensive conference, but it’s hard to match those numbers regardless of who you are playing.

#7 DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma)

DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown make up the best running back duo in the nation for Oklahoma. Murray received less hand offs in 2008 due to missing the last two games of the season with injury, but both backs averaged a strong 5.6 yards per carry. Murray was also able to post a 1,000 yard season despite missing those few games. If not for sharing carries with an equally talented Chris Brown, Murray could easily be one of the top rushers in the nation. However, the Sooners ability to rotate between the two may be more effective from a team’s standpoint. It is just amazing the numbers that the Sooners running backs are able to produce considering they are such an elite passing team.

#8 Noel Devine (West Virginia)

Noel Devine burst onto the scene at the beginning of 2008 as one of the hottest tailbacks in the nation. Devine averaged over 120 yards during the first 8 games of the season before fading a bit down the stretch. However, his numbers were very impressive considering running threat of Pat White accompanied him in the back field. Devine posted a 6.1 yards per carry average in 2008 despite the Mountaineers taking a step back as a team. However, Devine will be the best returning back in the Big East this season and will try to be the main guy in helping restore the explosiveness on the Mountaineers’ offense.

#9 Chris Brown (Oklahoma)

Another very impressive tailback that comes out of the Oklahoma stable, Brown was able to rush for 1,220 yards last season. Brown ranked 4th among running backs in college football producing 20 scores for the year. The senior tailback will enter 2009 with the expectations for another 1,000 yard plus performance. If not for sharing time with Murray, Brown could be one of the single best rushers in America. However, sharing carries in the back field may actually limit his chances of putting up ridiculous numbers.

#10 C.J Spiller (Clemson)

C.J Spiller perhaps is one of the most under rated backs in college football. However, those are not because he has put up any huge numbers. In fact, Spiller has never eclipsed the 1,000 yard barrier in his previous 3 seasons with the Tigers. Spiller has fell victim of an offense that simply has not allowed him to showcase his skills. One of the quickest backs on our board, Spiller has also had to share time with James Davis over the last 3 years. However, Spiller will be the lone back for the Tigers this season and there is no way he should not rack up well over 1,000 yards against the ACC defenses.

Who is college football's best running back?

  • Jahvid Best (California) (25%, 90 Votes)
  • C.J Spiller (Clemson) (16%, 59 Votes)
  • Noel Devine (West Virginia) (11%, 40 Votes)
  • Jonathon Dwyer (Georgia Tech) (10%, 35 Votes)
  • DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma) (7%, 27 Votes)
  • None of the Above (Leave Opinion in Comments) (7%, 27 Votes)
  • Evan Royster (Penn State) (7%, 27 Votes)
  • Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State) (6%, 22 Votes)
  • Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State) (6%, 21 Votes)
  • Chris Brown (Oklahoma) (3%, 10 Votes)
  • MiQuale Lewis (Ball State) (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 365


Posted in College Football on Saturday, July 25th, 2009 at 12:00 pm (EST)
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