Replacing Sproles will be a tough
10 – Thomas Clayton (Kansas State) 6-0, 210 lbs., Jr.–
Going into his freshman year at his first stopover in division 1-A (Florida State), Clayton went in with a lot of stars and a whole lot of potential. The
Seminoles saw that potential in a different way, however, opting to move Clayton
Well, Clayton wanted no part of that and after a long search to find the right school, he landed at
Clayton brings a great combination of skills, able to move inside and out fairly effectively and he's got the size to be more than ample to play all day between the tackles if needed. What Clayton needs more than anything are opportunities, something that all the K. State backs should get with Darren Sproles off to greener pastures.
K. State could be by committee this season, other backs like Carlos Alsup being potentially their go-to guys. If Clayton gets his chances, though, he's got everything the Wildcats need to have an effective, albeit unproven back that can be used anywhere on the field. Clayton played in nine games last year, getting 15 carries for a total of 71 yards.
9 – Ramonce Taylor (
His size would tell you that he's
capable of being physical when he has to, but I see
With Benson gone and teammate
Selvin Young having some lingering issues with grades,
to be a different type of running attack for the Horns this year, this being the
first year in a few that they haven't had that one sure-thing ball carrier that
they knew could get the ball 25-plus times a game, take the pounding and keep
asking for more.
If you want a great outside of
the tackle threat, though,
8 - Kejuan Jones (Oklahoma) – 5-9, 200 lbs., Sr. – It's tough being the other woman, isn't it? Welcome to the world of Kejuan Jones as he spells defenses and mops up after teammate Adrian Peterson has usually wiped the floor with the competition.
Total time on the field doesn't take our opinion away, however, that Jones is a solid all-purpose back.
No, he doesn't have the ideal height you like, but
The problem is, Jones doesn't have the luxury of being able to run through tackles like his cohort in Crimson and while I know I will get hacked on for this, he'll be doing it behind an offensive line that when it comes to run blocking, is pretty unspectacular.
I don't take
as a knock on Jones, though, because he did pretty well last year, averaging
almost four yards per carry, rushing for over 500 yards, jaunting into the end
zone five times.
He'll be the
bridesmaid once again this year, but, hey, when your teammate is Adrian
Peterson, that's not an insult at all.
7 – Paul Mosley (Baylor) – 6-3, 230 lbs., Jr. – Tackle
this guy. I dare ya. What a load this guy is to bring down for any opponent that
has the unfortunate task of doing so. And for someone his size, this young man
has shown himself to have remarkably good feet.
offense that ranked as one of the most pathetic in the country, Mosley still
managed to average over four and a half yards per carry and that was usually
with one or two guys on his back.
going to be Baylor itself riding his pads this time around, running back Anthony Krieg now gone, leaving Paul as the Bears' best threat at a running game.
thing Mosley has going for him this time around is that quarterback Shawn Bell
returns and if he can stay healthy, that might actually give the Bears an even
better passing attack this year, Baylor not totally horrible last season,
averaging over 210 yards per game.
6 – Taurean Henderson (Texas Tech) – 5-10, 205 lbs., Sr. – There was always a rap
Well, try being a running back in an
offense that as Texas Tech coaches will admit, comes off the bus throwing it
fifty times a game.
running back, you have become that secret weapon and in the Big XII, for a
running back to be a secret, that's saying a heck of a lot.
5 – Courtney Lewis (Texas A&M) – 6-0, 195 lbs.,
Jr. - If it wasn't for Texas Tech and the fact that nobody even think they have
a running back, Courtney Lewis could be the more unsung backs in the conference.
But, that could have something to do with the potential superstar he has in
prowess as both a runner and thrower have given the Aggies a potent attack, but
Lewis is a vital key.
Last year Lewis averaged over
four yards per carry, toting the ball a fairly minor 175 times, averaging just
under 70 yards a game. That's not much, but it becomes more when you consider
that while Lewis ranked 11th in the conference in rushing last year, his
quarterback ranked right behind him at number 12.
returning, that gives Lewis more opportunities to feed of what his teammate
does, but also so that his teammate can feed off of him. They are going to have
to as this duo comprises the gist of the Aggie running game.
handle it as he's got the size to be effective inside and out, the speed to work
well as a compliment to McNeal when they choose an option style attack and Lewis
is an every down kind of back.
usually have good fullbacks, which will help, so Lewis could once again have a
very fruitful year for TAMU.
Stevie Hicks Jr. (
Hicks is one
of those players that you can say doesn't do any one thing spectacular, but he's
a solid back all around and for what Iowa State does, Hicks fits them to a tee.
some growing pains last year, Hicks not managing to average even four yards a
carry, averaging just under 90 yards a game. But, you know how it is with new
offenses, though, and Barney Cotton was just getting his put into place.
In year two,
if Cotton proves good to his background, there's one question you won't have to
ask about his O-line that will be paving the way for Stevie and that's how they
can run block in a real game.
They can and they will and Hicks should have a very good season and if the passing game of the Clones continues to progress, it could be an extremely good year.
3 – Selvin Young
thing that seems to have held this guy back is either a superstar starter or
himself, Young actually battling the books this spring more than he was battling
for time on the field.
That's neither here nor there, though, when analyzing what this young man can do and frankly, there's not much he can't.
No, he's not
the 225 pound back that Texas has grown accustomed to, but I'd put money on
Young being a guy that could easily carry the ball 20, possibly even 30 times a
game. He won't have to, however, because in Ramonce Taylor, he's got a deadly
partner in the backfield.
I am not going to say that this
2 – Cory Ross
To be honest, if it wasn't for the
complete freak sitting on top of the charts, Ross could be there instead.
I saw this
guy play almost an entire season, barely practicing, wearing a specially
designed boot, because he had turf toe almost from the start of conference play.
And he still manages to be the Big XII's second leading returning rusher.
1,100 yards last year, new
offense, decent but unspectacular line and a passing game that was respected
about as much as it was when
elusiveness even the speedy Sooners had troubles with last season and strength
belying his size, Ross proved to be one of the most potent backs in the
now, but the offensive line still has questions, so early on, there could be
some of those typical growing pains once again. With new quarterback Zac Taylor
at the helm, though, coming from a background of actually passing in a system
like this, Ross could see less than nine guys on the line.
If he does
and consistently so, you can forget about the skeptics that think this ranking
is too high. It isn't and won't be and again, if it wasn't for a certain freak
of nature, Ross could be easily number one.
1 - Adrian
Peterson is good.
You think I just stated one of
the most obvious facts outside of
I don't mean
Peterson is good. I mean he is GOOD and I don't think anyone realizes just how
damn good he is.
I've watched a few
block extremely well, but their run blocking leaves a lot to be desired.
STILL ran for almost 2,000 yards last year.
If you want
the hands down best pure running back out there that gives you the versatility
to go inside and outside, both with lethal effectiveness, this is the guy for
going to go into his strengths and what he does well, because honestly, there's
nothing he doesn't.
that damn good!
number one and honestly and no offense to anyone else in the conference, you
have to go down a clip before you get to number two.
Next up: The Quarterbacks