Vol backs rated No. 4 in NCAA

The folks at College Football News say Tennessee has the fourth-best stable of running backs in college football heading into the 2003 season.

Auburn -- surprise, surprise -- is No. 1. Here's what CFN has to say about the Tigers:

''Auburn has an embarrassment of riches in its backfield. Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and Brandon Jacobs are all All-America caliber players, and could be the program's most talented crew ever. There's also Tre Smith adding more speed, and one of the SEC's best blocking fullbacks (when healthy), Brandon Johnson. Bo Jackson and Lionel James might have formed a more formidable tandem in 1983, but that team didn't have a third and fourth option like this one has.''

Minnesota and Ohio State rank 2-3, followed by Tennessee. Interestingly enough, CFN overlooks scatback Corey Larkins, who Big Orange coaches say may be the most elusive of UT's tailbacks. Regardless, here's what CFN has to say about the Vol ballcarriers:

 Gerald Riggs Jr.

''There's no real weakness in this group. There's speed, power, and depth to burn. Any one of the three tailbacks would start on most teams, so the key will be to keep them happy. Cedric Houston is the star at the moment, but Gerald Riggs could turn out to be the best of the bunch if he doesn't have problems with his academics.''

West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame and Miami round out the top 10. For what it's worth, Alabama's backs (led by Shaud Williams) are ranked 27th and Florida's backs (led by Ran Carthon) are rated 34th.

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