West: Top Ten Running Backs

Oakley (Calif.) Freedom's Joe Mixon leads the early West top running back rankings for 2014...

West: Early Top Ten Running Backs
Location: Oakley, Calif.
High School: Freedom
Size: 6-1/195
Recruiting: Arizona State, Arkansas, California, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wisconsin
The Skinny: Mixon is an every down back who can do everything well. He looks bigger than his listed 6-1, 205 pound frame and runs with a nice blend of balance, power and speed. He has a great feel for the position and has that innate ability to sense where a defensive player is coming and either make a quick cut to elude him or take a glancing blow. Mixon never seems to get his square up, which given his size, is surprising but a testament to his mature running style.
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
High School: Bishop Gorman
Size: 6-0, 190
Recruiting: Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Arizona, UCLA, Utah
The Skinny: Starks is a top ten player in the west at running back and safety. He's probably the best overall athlete in this group and has the best hands out of the backfield of any player in this group as well. He runs with a great forward lean, can break tackles and has home run speed. He's quick hitting the hole and has an ideal frame to be an every down back at the next level.
Location: Highlands Ranch, Colo.
High School: Valor Christian
Size: 6-0/190
Recruiting: Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington, Wisconsin
The Skinny: McCaffrey is a spectacular athlete and could play in the backfield or in the slot in college. He's arguably the most dynamic athlete in this group with the ability to make you miss in the open field and the electric speed to score from anywhere. He shows great vision in finding the crease in a defense, the most explosive speed to get in to the secondary and the balance to stay on his feet and absorb initial contact.
Location: Fresno, Calif.
High School: Central
Size: 5-11/195
Recruiting: Committed to Arizona
The Skinny: Wilson is a powerful back who can run between the tackles but has breakaway speed as well. He's decisive and doesn't try and dance around too much in the backfield but picks a hole and goes. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, understands how to finish off a run and is always falling forward at the end of each carry.
Location: Imperial, Calif.
High School: Imperial
Size: 5-11/220
Recruiting: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado State, Nevada, Oregon State, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Washington
The Skinny: Freeman is the top power back in the west and is an absolute load to bring down. At 5-11, 220 pounds, he's not just big and powerful but has good top end speed as well. He was the RB MVP at the recent SoCal NIKE Camp and has a significant upside to him.

The Next Five:
6. Rashaad Penny (Norwalk, Calif.)
7. Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif.)
8. Kalen Ballage (Falcon, Colo.)
9. J.T. Gray (Coolidge, Ariz.)
10. Isaiah Brandt-Sims (Wenatchee, Wash.)

Location: Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
High School: Mountlake Terrace
Size: 6-3/215
Recruiting: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado State, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State
The Skinny: A two-way prospect, offensively Downs looks like an optimal power-back. With good speed, and good size, he's a load to handle up the middle and does a good job of keeping his legs going and gaining yards after contact.  Originally we had him as an outside linebacker, but his best position in college, at this stage at least, is likely as a power back, fullback type.


National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins (@GregBiggins), National Recruiting Analyst and West Regional Manager Brandon Huffman (@BrandonHuffman), Southwest Recruiting Analyst Jason Jewell (@jason247scout) and Northwest Recruiting Analyst Jake Worthen (@JakeWorthen) contributed to these rankings.


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