Pac-12 Position Rankings: Running back

WildcatAuthority.com will be running a series of articles that ranks the positional units in the Pac-12. Click inside for how we view the running backs.

The second installment of our Pac-12 rankings takes a look at the running back position, where Oregon dominates the conference.

1. Oregon: The Ducks have insane depth in the backfield, as LaMichael James decided to come back after rushing for 1622 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.

Kenjon Barber also comes back after rushing for over 500 yards and the Ducks will add highly regarded Lache Seastrunk, who should be able to put up solid numbers as well.

The Ducks put up some great rushing numbers last season, but should be able to surpass those in 2011.

2. USC: The Trojans get this spot because of depth, but there are still a handful of players that will need to prove themselves.

Marc Tyler ran for 896 yards last season, but came into spring overweight and received criticism from the coaching staff.

Curtis McNeal will get an opportunity to shine, but the real player to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan. Morgan has a ton of talent and figuring he is healthy, will get every opportunity to have significant carries.

3. Stanford: Stanford returns its backfield from last year, led by Stepfan Taylor. Taylor ran for 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns with no reason to believe he won't do similar this season.

In addition to Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney will be back and may get more carries as well.

4. Washington: The Huskies definitely do not have a lot of depth, but Chris Polk's ability gives them the second spot.

Polk rushed for 1365 yards and nine touchdowns and will be helped out by Jesse Callier, who rushed for 400 of his own last season.

A player to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Deontae Cooper, who is still recovering from a knee injury.

5. Arizona State: The Sun Devils have plenty of depth and will look for one of the players to break out this season.

The most likely candidate is Cameron Marshall, who ran for 761 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

The status of Deantre Lewis remains up in the air, but ASU is still hoping that guys like Kyle Middlebrooks and Marcus Washington will be able to bring more explosiveness to the offense.

6. UCLA: The Bruins will be looking for more consistency in the back field and the hope that one of the backs will break out to give Johnathan Franklin some help.

Franklin returns after running for 1061 yards and eight touchdowns last season and is helped by Derrick Coleman, who ran for over 400 yards and five touchdowns.

The hope is that Malcolm Jones, Jordon James, or Anthony Barr will step up and provide a third option for the Bruins.

7. Arizona: The Wildcats return Keola Antolin, who ran for 641 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

After him, the backfield is a bit of a question mark. Daniel Jenkins will likely get carries, but has not seen any legitimate action. In addition, Greg Nwoko is out for an extended period of time with a knee injury.

Ka'Deem Carey is certainly one to watch and there is a good chance that he will be contributing right away.

8. Colorado: Senior Rodney Stewart should be one of the top backs in the conference, as he ran for 1272 yards and ten touchdowns.

In addition, the Buffs will use senior Brian Lockridge, who added 133 yards last season and could play a bigger role.

Both backs are smaller and more explosive, as Colorado will not have much of a power running game.

9. Cal: The Golden Bears were definitely hurt by the departure of Shane Vereen and will now look to replace him, which won't be easy.

Isi Sofele and Covaughn Deboskie will likely get the first shot, with Sofele only having 69 carries last season.

One player to keep an eye on is incoming freshman Brendon Bigelow, who many feel is one of the top backs in the west.

10. Oregon State: Make no mistake about it, this team is going to suffer with Jacquizz Rodgers.

As of now, Ryan McCants and Jovan Stevenson are the top two backs on the depth chart and neither give Mike Riley confidence considering what he had last season.

Junior Jordan Jenkins had shoulder surgery, but there is a solid chance that he will be healthy in time for fall ball and could be named the starter soon after if he gets healthy.

11. Utah: The Utes had to literally replace every back that had a carry last season and came out of the spring with four options.

The option most likely to dominate carries is freshman Harvey Langi. Langi had an impressive spring and seems to be the most complete back.

5-foot-9 John White could be a sleeper, as the Utah coaching staff feels he is the most explosive of the bunch and should get time to prove it.

12. Washington State: Logwone Mitz is the main returning back from last season, but only put up a little over 200 yards.

The Cougars should struggle with the running game, but it will be interesting to see if redshirt freshman Rickey Galvin will be the playmaker the Wazzu coaching staff hopes he is.


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