Ranking the SEC: RB

In just two weeks, SEC Media Days kick off followed by the release of the all-conference teams. As usual, there will be several expected selections and some surprises. In anticipation of the new season getting underway, here's a look at how the league's backfields stack up.

The backfield evaluation is not solely based on the expected starting running backs. It's more of an evaluation of each team's overall running game. The Gators, for instance, will most likely run more of the triple option with Tim Tebow at quarterback, so rushing yards could come from the tailback, quarterback or wide receiver.

#1 – Arkansas - Heisman hopeful Darren McFadden and Felix Jones led the way with the SEC's most dominating running game last season. Plus, Michael Smith threw in another 247 yards for the Razorbacks. Arkansas led the SEC last season with more than 3,000 rushing yards and is poised to do the same this season.

#2 – Florida - With Tebow under center, the Gators running game has the potential to be ferocious this season. Not only will opposing defenses need to worry about whoever comes out of the backfield, most likely Kestahn Moore, but they'll also have to watch for Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and of course, Tebow. Only Arkansas had more rushing yards than the Gators in '06.

#3 – Georgia - Kregg Lumpkin is being billed as an All-SEC candidate, but he may get some pressure for the starting job. Lumpkin carried 162 times last season for 798 yards, but redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno was impressive in the spring, carrying 11 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game.

#4 – LSU - Like Arkansas, the Tigers are loaded at running back with four viable candidates. Keiland Williams had a great freshman season, rushing for 405 yards and five touchdowns in just seven games. Charles Scott and Richard Murphy also show potential. And then there's senior Alley Broussard who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in '04 before sitting out the '05 season with a knee injury. That is if he gets himself out of Les Miles' doghouse.

#5 – Kentucky - Rafael Little could be the second best back in the league if he stays healthy. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore, but was slowed by injuries in '06. Still, he rushed for 673 yards in just nine games last season.

#6 – Ole Miss - Senior BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished third in the SEC last season with 1,000 yards rushing. A lot of the offense is put on his shoulders with a suspect passing game, but to manage a 1,000-yard season with no passing threat is pretty impressive.

#7 – Auburn - Auburn finished sixth in the league last season in rushing yards, but most of them were gained by Kenny Irons. Junior Brad Lester, though, had his share of success. Lester rushed for 510 yards with nine touchdowns last season. Auburn also features junior Tristan Davis who is one of the fastest backs in the SEC and Mario Fannin who is a powerful rusher, coming off a solid spring.

#8 – Tennessee - The Vols have some talent in their backfield, but injuries and off-the-field issues have impacted their consistency. Arian Foster had a great freshman season, but struggled last year and was slowed with a sprained ankle. Sophomore LaMarcus Coker did a nice job relieving Foster, but had his share of injuries as well. The duo can do some damage if they stay healthy and out of trouble.

#9 – Vanderbilt - The Commodores have some talent in the backfield, but nothing that can dominate. They do have consistency and experience with junior Jeff Jennings and senior Cassen Jackson-Garrison. Jennings sat out last season rehabbing a knee injury after scoring 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons. Jackson-Garrison has improved each season, rushing for 614 yards with five touchdowns last season.

#10 – South Carolina - Cory Boyd had a break out season in 2006, rushing for 823 yards with eight touchdowns. And Junior Mike Davis finished the season on a high note, but he sat out the spring after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

#11 – Alabama - With the graduation of Kenneth Darby, the Crimson Tide don't have too many options at running back. There's not much experience in the group and most are coming off injuries. Junior Jimmy Johns is the most experienced back, finishing second on the team in '06 with 293 yards, but most reports favor redshirt freshman Terry Grant as the starter heading into the season.

#12 – Mississippi State - The Bulldogs have two, young running backs in Anthony Dixon and Christian Ducre. Dixon rushed for 668 yards, but he was slowed with injuries.


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