1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
2011: In seven games last season, Lattimore rushed 163 times for 818 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 182 yards and a score.
A torn ACL in the Mississippi State game cut the final six games off his season. Had Lattimore been healthy enough to play out the rest of the season, he could have potentially been one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
Because of the injury, he missed the game against Clemson.
What he's doing here: During his two-year career, Lattimore has been a horse for the Gamecocks. He's rushed 412 times for 2,015 yards and 27 touchdowns, and that's with an injury shortened sophomore season. Lattimore also has 48 catches for 594 yards and three touchdowns.
When healthy, Lattimore is one of the best running backs in the country, if not the best.
2. Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech
2011: Smith rushed 61 times for 615 yards and 11 scores during his junior season at Georgia Tech. His 11 touchdowns was tops among Yellow Jacket running backs. He also caught 13 passes for 306 yards and a score.
Because Georgia Tech spreads the ball around to so many different runners, Smith never had more than nine carries last season, but he still managed to average 51.3 yards per game.
Against Clemson, Smith carried seven times for 37 yards and two touchdowns from the A-back position.
What he's doing here: Smith has patiently waited his turn to be a primary producer in Paul Johnson's option attack. During his three-year career, Smith has 119 carries for 1,157 yards and 15 touchdowns. Smith is a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, too. He has 27 receptions for 527 yards and a touchdown.
He underwent turf toe surgery in the offseason to repair an injury that's lingered since high school. Because of the surgery, Smith missed all of Georgia Tech's spring practice. But he expects to have a bigger role in 2012.
With the departures of several key running backs, including Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples, Smith could be asked to shoulder an increased workload.
3. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
2011: At times last season, Florida State was downright awful when running the football. To help cure those woes, Jimbo Fisher began to lean on his highly touted freshman. Freeman finished with 120 carries for 579 yards and eight touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 111 yards.
What he's doing here: Freeman has the potential to be one of the most electric backs in the conference. If able to build off last year, Freeman will make a name for himself around the league. There's one hold up, the Seminole offensive line is going to be young.
Top opposing running backs
CUTigers.com Top Stories
From Gamecock to TigerDabo Swinney and Clemson add another tie to Alabama in their hire of DE Coach Marion Hobby's successor.
CUTigers.comSunday at 7:41 PM
Where Does Clemson Rank All-Time?Clemson captured its second consensus National Championship in 35 years by beating #3 Ohio State, the 2014 National Champion, 31-0 and undefeated #1 Alabama, the Defending National…
CUTigers.comFriday at 6:20 PM
PHOTO GALLERY I: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PARADEEnjoy these images from the Clemson National Championship Parade and Death Valley Celebration, courtesy of CUTigers.com Photographer John Bolton!
CUTigers.comWednesday at 5:56 PM
RECRUITING RADARIn our weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front!