Bill's Combine Research: Running Backs

Packer Report is getting ready for the Scouting Combine and telling you about each of the 328 players who will be in Indianapolis later this month. We continue this 13-part series with the 30 running backs, which includes a Heisman Trophy winner and a few with NFL fathers.


Edwin Baker, Michigan State (5-9, 210): Baker is an early entry after rushing for 665 yards in a timeshare with Le'Veon Bell in 2011. As a sophomore, Baker rushed for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught 15 passes in three seasons.

Mike Ball, Nevada (5-10, 215): Ball, a junior entry, was kicked off the team late in a junior season in which he rushed for 704 yards. Ball rushed for 184 yards and five touchdowns against UNLV as a redshirt freshman. He's the school's all-time leader with 1,695 yards on 70 kickoff returns.

Vick Ballard, Mississippi State (5-11, 220): The powerful Ballard rushed for 1,189 yards (6.2 average) and 10 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 187 yards and another score as a senior. That was an encore to a junior season in which he scored 20 total touchdowns. Ballard was a junior college All-American.

Brandon Bolden, Mississippi (5-11, 215): Bolden, who suffered a slight fracture of an ankle in the opener against BYU, played in 10 games with four starts a senior, finishing with 462 yards (4.8 average). He's ranked second in school history in total touchdowns (33) and rushing touchdowns (27), third in all-purpose yards (3,681) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604). He caught 76 passes in four seasons, including 32 as a junior.

Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech (6-1, 215): After spending his first two seasons at Tennessee, Creer transferred and rushed for 2,019 yards and nine touchdowns with Tech. Cousin Andre Davis played running back at TCU and was drafted by the Oilers in 1996.

Jeff Demps, Florida: Demps received an invite, even though he said he was giving up football to pursue his dream of competing in the Olympics. Demps set a junior world record in the 100 meters at the 2008 Olympic Trials and is the two-time defending NCAA indoor champion in the 60. On the football field, he rushed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns and averaged 28.8 yards per kickoff return for his career.

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (6-1, 240): Brains and brawn for this two-time Dean's List performer. As a senior, he rushed for 1,556 yards (6.2 average) and 21 touchdowns. He can squat 600 pounds and bench 395, according to the school, so he should put up big numbers at the Combine. He started his career at Houston but transferred when the head coach there, Art Briles, took the Baylor job. His uncle is former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.

Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M (5-10, 200): Gray, a versatile running back/quarterback/receiver in high school, rushed for 1,045 yards (5.3 average) and 12 touchdowns as a senior, plus caught 31 balls for 239 yards and three more scores. Coach Mike Sherman said Gray is the kind of guy "you want to marry your daughter." He's worked out with former teammate Von Miller and former Olympic champion Michael Johnson.

Jonas Gray, Notre Dame (5-10, 230): Gray, who went to the same Detroit high school as Chris Webber and Shane Battier, had a quiet first three seasons, then saw his breakout senior season (791 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) end with a torn ACL. He won't run at the Combine but hopes to by his pro day. Before the injury, he scored a touchdown in eight consecutive games — the longest streak by a Notre Dame runner since 1998.

— Jewel Hampton, Southern Illinois (5-9, 210): As the backup to Shonn Greene, Hampton set an Iowa freshman record with eight rushing touchdowns in 2008 but missed all of 2009 with a torn right ACL and most of 2010 with a torn left ACL. He had a banner year in 2011, his only season at SIU, culminating in being named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Year. Hampton rushed for 100-plus yards six times, scored a league-high 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,121 yards. He added 19 receptions. He said the NFL's draft advisory committee gave him a Day 3 grade so decided to leave a year early.

Dan Herron, Ohio State (5-10, 205): "Boom" Herron beat out the Packers' Brandon Saine in 2010 and rushed for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns. He played in only seven games as a senior due to suspensions for improper benefits and being overpaid for hours worked at a part-time job. He finished with just 675 yards and three touchdowns, but was voted the team's MVP. His 89-yard run against Michigan as a junior tied the team record, and he scored at least one touchdown in 13 consecutive games spanning the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State (5-10, 190): Like Marshall Faulk, Hillman fumbled on his first carry at San Diego State. And like Faulk, he produced some monster numbers on his way to the NFL. Hillman, given a third-round grade by the NFL's draft advisory panel, left with two years of eligibility remaining. With seasons of 1,532 yards and 17 touchdowns (to break Faulk's school freshman records) and 1,711 yards and 19 touchdowns, there was little else to accomplish in school. He caught 33 passes during his two seasons. He's got explosive speed, as shown with a 99-yard touchdown run at Wyoming in 2011 and 93- and 75-yard touchdown runs at Missouri in 2010.

LaMichael James, Oregon (5-9, 195): The consensus All-American finished second in the nation with 1,805 rushing yards as a junior in 2011. He was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award (best running back), which he won as a sophomore, and Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player). Despite leaving with one year of eligibility remaining, James ranks second in Pac-12 history with 5,082 rushing yards and 53 rushing touchdowns, and first in FBS history with 34 carries of at least 30 yards. In three seasons, he caught 51 passes for 586 yards. James' father was shot and killed before he was born and his mother was out of his life when he was just a couple weeks old. He was raised by his maternal grandmother, and when she died of cervical cancer when he was a high school junior, he lived alone in her house for the next year until arriving at Oregon.

Doug Martin
Kirby Lee/US Presswire
Doug Martin, Boise State (5-9, 208): Martin rushed for 1,260 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior and 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior, and caught 28 passes in each of those two seasons. He closed his career with 301 all-purpose yards, including a 100-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff, in a bowl victory over Arizona State. No schools from BCS conferences recruited Martin, and when he was supposed to take his official visit to Boise State, his mom wouldn't let him go because the trip would have interfered with him learning the waltz and salsa at his etiquette classes.

Davin Meggett, Maryland (5-9, 215): If the name "Meggett" rings a bell, it should: His father is Dave Meggett, who at 5-foot-7 was an explosive running back and kick returner for the Giants, Patriots and Jets. Even with the genes, Maryland was the only FBS school to give him a scholarship offer. Despite his stature, Meggett played in all 50 career games, and he rushed for 896 yards (5.2 average) and four touchdowns as a senior. He's more quick than fast, is a good blocker and can catch — making him perfect for a third-down role, which was his dad's job during his career. For the record, Dave Meggett was sentenced to 30 years in prison in November 2010 for criminal sexual conduct and burglary.

Lamar Miller, Miami (5-11, 212): Miller rushed for 1,272 yards in 2011, the third-best season in school history, and decided to turn pro with two years of eligibility remaining. His 1,000-yard season was the school's first since Willis McGahee in 2002, and he had big games against Ohio State (184 yards) and Virginia Tech (166). Caught 28 passes over the final two seasons. How's this for fast: In high school, he was timed in the 100 meters in 10.56 seconds. That's faster than other former Miami-area high school greats, such as Devin Hester (10.87), Sam Shields (10.82) and Adrian Peterson (10.61).

— Alfred Morris, Florida Atlantic (5-11, 222): Morris ended his career atop the FAU charts for career rushing yards (3,529), rushing touchdowns (27) and all-purpose yards (3,843). He is the first running back in Howard Schnellenberger's 27 years as a head coach to post two seasons with 1,000 yards. He ran for 1,186 yards as a senior — making him a one-man gang as he piled up 40 percent of the Owls' woeful 2,985 total yards.

— Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati (5-11, 200): Pead finished his career with 3,288 yards (6.0 average) and 27 touchdowns, including 1,338 yards and 12 scores as a senior. He was named MVP of the Senior Bowl by rushing for 31 yards and adding punt returns of 60 and 38 yards. In rushing for 4,443 yards at Eastmore Academy in Columbus, Ohio, Pead broke the school record held by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. Pead wanted to play for hometown Ohio State, like Griffin, but the Buckeyes didn't offer a full ride.

Bernard Pierce, Temple (6-1, 218): Pierce isn't the most famous running back in school history. That would be Bill Cosby, who played fullback for the Owls in the 1960s. Pierce left Temple following a junior season in which he scored a team-record 27 touchdowns — including a MAC-record five against Maryland — and rushed for 1,481 yards. In three seasons, he rushed for 3,570 yards (5.2 average) and a school-record 53 touchdowns. He caught just 19 passes, including three as a junior. Temple coach Steve Addazio compared Pierce to Ryan Grant, whom he worked with while running backs coach at Notre Dame.

Chris Polk, Washington: Polk (5-11, 222) declared for the draft after a junior season that ranked second in school history with 1,488 rushing yards and seventh with 12 rushing touchdowns. With 4,049 career rushing yards, he's one of just seven runners in Pac-12 history to reach the 4,000-yard milestone, and he owns three of the top nine single-season totals in Washington history. Plus, he caught 78 passes in his three years.

Tauren Poole, Tennessee (5-10, 215): Poole rushed for 1,034 yards (5.1 average) and 11 touchdowns as a junior and 693 yards (3.7) and five touchdowns as the lone senior starting on offense. He was an Academic All-State player at Stephens County High School in Toccoa, Ga., who rushed for 5,413 yards during his final three seasons. Raised by a single mom, he served the role of father to his younger sister as his mom worked two jobs. At the East-West Shrine Game, he was given the Pat Tillman Award as the player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service.

Chris Rainey, Florida (5-9, 174): Rainey ranks ninth in school history with 2,464 career rushing yards (6.2 average). He added 69 receptions for 795 yards (11.5 average), and he holds the SEC record with six career blocked punts. As a senior, he became the first player in school history to lead the team in rushing (861 yards), receptions (31), punt return yards (106) and all-purpose yards (1,451), and only Rainey and Emmitt Smith led the team in rushing and receptions in a season. In 2010, he was arrested on stalking charges after texting his then-girlfriend that it was "time to die." He agreed to a misdemeanor charge that resulted in counseling and fines.

Trent Richardson, Alabama (5-11, 224): After leading Alabama to the national title, winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back and finishing third in Heisman Trophy balloting, Richardson elected to turn pro with one year of eligibility remaining. A complete back with power, speed and hands (39 catches in 2011), he'll potentially be a top-five pick. Only Richardson, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow rushed for at least 20 touchdowns in a season in SEC history. Of his 1,583 rushing yards this past season, 787 of them (49.7 percent) came after contact. In 614 career touches, he lost just one fumble. He rushed for 2,090 yards as a senior at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla. — the same school that produced Emmitt Smith.

Darrell Scott, South Florida (6-1, 240): Scott doesn't have much of a resume but is an early entry in the draft, anyway. He rushed for 814 yards in 2011 while playing in 11 games (eight starts) in his one and only season at USF. Scott was one of the top running back recruits coming out of St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif., where he rushed for 2,433 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior and drew comparisons to LaDainian Tomlinson. He landed at Colorado and quit the team five games into his sophomore season. He sat out 2010 due to NCAA transfer rules. About 35 pounds heavier than his playing weight at Colorado, those Tomlinson comparisons are long gone.

Robert Turbin
John Reed/US Presswire
Robert Turbin, Utah State (5-10, 216): Turbin bounced back from a torn ACL that sidelined him for all of 2010 by rushing for 1,517 yards and scoring 23 total touchdowns in being named Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year. A do-it-all threat, Turbin helped Utah State to its first bowl game since 1997. His idol is the "Incredible Hulk," with the muscular, green hero on his screen saver and phone. Turbin has overcome a rough childhood. His mom was addicted to drugs before he was born, his brother has been in and out of jail and his sister is paralyzed from the neck down and can't speak. He'd hear her cry in the middle of the night and wonder what was wrong and wonder if there was anything he could do to help. "You'd do everything you possibly could and she'd still be crying," he told the, Salt Lake Tribune.

— Marc Tyler, USC (5-11, 230): Tyler's father, Wendell, was a Pro Bowl running back who helped the Rams and 49ers reach Super Bowls in the 1980s. He enjoyed a breakout junior season with 913 yards and nine touchdowns. He added 568 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, a campaign delayed by a season-opening suspension after he — perhaps intoxicated — told TMZ: "USC, they breaking bread," when asked if athletes make more money at USC than in the pros. At Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Calif., Tyler's quarterback was Jimmy Clausen.

Fozzy Whittaker, Texas (5-10, 202): For his career, Whittaker rushed for 1,233 yards (4.7 average) and 12 touchdowns and caught 73 passes for 464 yards (6.4 average). As a senior, he returned 10 kickoffs for 424 yards — with 100-yard touchdowns in back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — but his season ended with a torn ACL and MCL after seven games. He earned his degree in May 2010 and is working toward a master's in kinesiology.

David Wilson, Virginia Tech (5-10, 205): Wilson, who was named the ACC's player of the year after rushing for a school-record 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns, entered the draft following his junior campaign. He had seven consecutive 100-yard games and 10 for the season — tying the ACC record held by former teammate Ryan Williams. The NFL's draft advisory panel projects him as a second-round pick. Maybe he'll get a new set of wheels: he drives a 1978 orange Thunderbird with ostrich leather-covered seats


Rhett Ellison, USC (6-5, 250): With his height, Ellison looks like a tight end, and he played both tight end and fullback for the Trojans. He caught 22 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns and was named first-team all-conference on special teams as a senior. His father, Riki Ellison, played for the 49ers and Raiders from 1983 through 1992 and was part of Niners' Super Bowl teams in 1985 and 1989.

Bradie Ewing, Wisconsin (6-0, 234): Ewing was the lead blocker as Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns. He didn't have a carry as a senior but caught 20 passes for 246 yards. He was named Wisconsin's special teams player of the year and is a three-time Big Ten academic selection. Ewing compared his game to that of Packers fullback John Kuhn in that he's a jack-of-all-trades kind of player.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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