Top opposing running backs

The four best running backs Clemson is slated to face this season play on two teams. One of those teams is up first on the 2013 schedule.

1-Todd Gurley, Georgia

2012

It's no wonder Chad Morris really wanted this guy. As a freshman, Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards, making him just the second true freshman in Georgia history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.

Gurley, who had 222 carries, averaged 98.9 yards per game. His 17 touchdowns on the ground set the school's freshman record. The figure is tied for third-most in a single season by a Bulldog ball carrier.

A freshman All-American, Gurley caught 16 passes for 117 yards. He returned seven kickoffs for 243 yards and a touchdown.

What he's doing here

The former four-star prospect from Tarboro, N.C. burst onto the scene last year, instantly putting his name alongside of other top-flight SEC running backs like Marcus Lattimore, Eddie Lacy, Christine Michael and Knile Davis. With all of those guys now gone to the NFL, Gurley is arguably the best back in the league.

Not only is he one of the best running backs in the SEC, Gurley ranks among the best running backs in the country. Phil Steele lists him on his preseason All-American second-team.

2-Devonta Freeman, Florida State

2012

Freeman finished second among Florida State rushers with 660 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 111 yards.

What he's doing here

Chris Thompson, Florida State's starting running back in each of the last two years, went down with season-ending injuries with multiple games left on the schedule. Freeman was promoted to the starting job both times.

For his career, Freeman has rushed 231 times for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's also a threat as a receiver [25 catches for 197 yards].

The 5-foot-9, 209-pound running back is a solid blend of power and speed. Coming out of Miami Central High School, Scout.com listed him as a four-star prospect.

3-James Wilder, Florida State

2012


James Wilder and FSU will visit Clemson this season.
Wilder finished third among Florida State rushers 635 yards on 110 carries. His 11 touchdowns ranked third among ACC running backs. He also caught 19 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

Named MVP in the ACC Championship Game, Wilder ran for 69 yards and two scores on 10 carries in the 21-15 win over Georgia Tech.

What he's doing here

Wilder saw a steady increase in production from year one to year two. Look for his numbers to make another jump in year three. As a freshman, he rushed 35 times for 160 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 14 yards.

One of the most versatile players in the country, some believe Wilder could play linebacker as well or better than he does running back. He opted to follow in his father's footsteps and play the same position. Senior, who was an All-Pro in the NFL, played for the Buccaneers, Redskins and Lions.

Junior is a big, bruising runner who can move piles and can easily run through arm tackles. Like his dad, Wilder will play on Sundays.

Honorable Mention-Keith Marshall, Georgia

2012

Also a freshman last season, Marshall rushed 117 times for 759 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 11 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Marshall also had three 100-yard games, including a 164-yard output against Tennessee.

What he's doing here

Marshall may have overshadowed Gurley on signing day in 2012, but the roles were reversed once the season got underway. Still, Marshall had a strong first season of college ball.

To go along with his speed, Marshall has added some size to his 5-foot-11 frame. According to the school's official website, he weighs 219 pounds.

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