Hot Button: Best Running Back

Patrick and Hatts debate whether Braeden West or Xavier Jones is the better back in SMU's class!

Patrick Engel arguing for Xavier Jones

Xavier Jones (pictured above) and Braeden West have a lot in common. They both are a threat to score every time they touch the ball and can line up all over the formation. But I'll pick Jones as the better back because of his abilities as a between-the-tackles runner. He hits the hole fast when he runs inside and shows a good mix of downhill running and speed. While he won't see a ton of carries between the tackles because he's 180 pounds, West is just 165 and likely won't see any such carries. Jones can be a little overly aggressive and pursue a running lane for a step too long, but his lateral quickness and quick-cut ability allows him to improvise well when a play breaks down. He keeps his eyes downfield and isn't afraid to shy away from contact when it presents itself. I expect a running-back-by-committed approach for SMU next season, but I think Jones' physical maturity and his cutting ability make him a better back at this stage.

Andrew Hattersley arguing for Braeden West

Braeden West is a shifty running back that just knows how to make plays. West was a finalist for the offensive player of the year in the Greater Houston area. When you turn on the film on West, it is easy to see why this staff loves him. West is just such a patient runner, waiting for the holes to develop. Once he hits the hole however, West can turn in big plays in a hurry thanks to that speed and some great feet that allow him to cut inside or outside and keep going.

Braeden West, like Xavier Jones, has that homerun potential but surprisingly for him weighing only 165 pounds, West is not afraid to run through someone if he has to. The Katy Seven Lakes running back does also have the potential to play a little bit of receiver. After West committed to SMU, he said he was told the staff would likely use him on inside zones, outside zones, jet sweeps and any other way to get him on the perimeter. West will have the chance to compete for playing time early and also has a chance to join the likes of Andre Ellington to come out of coach Morris’ offense and have a future down the road.

Braeden West Senior Highlights

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