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2006 NFL RB Draft Class
Version 2.0 - Stock Watch through Week 4

With the season about a third of the way over, it is a good time to look at how the top RB prospects for the 2006 draft we reviewed before the season started are doing. This review is not organized as a ranking of these prospects, but rather if their performance through the season so far has helped or hurt their draft value as it stood coming into the season. We’ll track them throughout the season and take a look at ranking them later in the season, updating it at the end of the season, then after the Combine, and a final ranking prior to the draft. At this point, it looks like two underclassmen are definitely in the competition to be among first RBs taken (if they declare). Reggie Bush and Laurence Maroney picked up where they left off last season and look more and more likely to be leaving with each big game. Bush is clearly the best draft-eligible RB in the country, at this point. DeAngelo Williams remains the top senior prospect. Let’s take a deeper look at what is going on with them and all the top RB prospects for the 2006 Draft…

Quick Hits

  • DeAngelo Williams has fifth 200-yard Rushing Day in his Last Eight Games
  • DonTrell Moore Successfully Returns from Torn ACL
  • Wali Lundy Injures Foot, Misses Time, Struggles to Return
  • Selvin Young Battles More Ankle Problems, Getting Lost in Talented Backfield
  • Chris Barclay Suspended for First Game, then Loses Starting Job, then Bounces Back
  • Joseph Addai Moves to Head of LSU RBBC with Alley Broussard Out for Season
  • Seymore Shaw Transfers to Central Oklahoma
  • Thomas Clayton Starts Huge, Gets Arrested and Suspended One Game
  • Brian Calhoun has Brilliant Debut as Badger

Rising Significantly

Gerald Riggs Jr., Tennessee (4SR) – Riggs has done nothing to make HC Phil Fulmer second-guess the decision to finally feature Riggs in the running game. Despite more of a challenge than expected from UAB on 9/3, where the Vols squeaked by 17-10, Riggs looked strong rushing for 110 yards on 23 carries (4.8 ypc). After a bye, an ineffective passing game and multiple special teams’ errors resulted in a 16-7 loss at Florida. Riggs had 86 yards on 17 carries (5.1 ypc), but 73 of those yards were in the first half, as lack of an aerial threat allowed the Gators to focus on Riggs in the second half. Hurricane Rita moved their game at LSU to 9/26, where the Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 first half lead as the Vol offense struggled, including a fumble by Riggs, against a tough and emotionally-charged LSU defense. The Vols managed to chip away in the second half, and Riggs scored on a 1-yard run halfway through the fourth quarter to bring them within three. The Vol defense forced a punt the next possession and Riggs had a 22-yard run that helped set up the field goal that tied the game. In overtime, Riggs accounted for all of Vols’ yards on a reception and four runs, including blasting in from a yard out with the winning TD. It wasn’t his best performance statistically, finishing with 24-89-2 (3.7 ypc) and 3-20-0, but it was a talented LSU defense and the way he took over the game in overtime showed he can be a special player. With ideal measurables, as long as Riggs continues to take advantage of this opportunity to finally be the feature back, he will be one of the top senior RB prospects in April.

DonTrell Moore, New Mexico (5SR) – returning from a torn ACL just nine months earlier in the Emerald Bowl, he still appeared limited against UNLV in the season opener on 9/5. Moore rushed for just 39 yards on 16 carries, but he did run for a TD and had 3-64-1 receiving. Just five days later, in an upset victory at Missouri, he looked better, finishing with 94 yard on 20 carries (4.7 ypc). In their next game, a win over New Mexico State on 9/17, he looked great, posting 24-120-1 (5.0 ypc) and 2-23-1. He also became the Lobos career rushing leader in the New Mexico State game, passing the record of 3,862 established by Mike Williams from 1975-1978. Next up at UTEP on 9/24, the team fell apart in the third quarter and suffered a disappointing loss, but Moore had his first back-to-back 100-yard games of the season, post 28-161-1. In that game he also became the 65th player in NCAA history to have 4,000 career rushing yards. With his knee seemingly recovered, he is also on his way to joining Cedric Benson, Ron Dayne, Tony Dorsett, Avon Cobourne, Denvis Manns, and Amos Lawrence as the seventh player in D-IA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. The way he has returned from the injury is very important to his draft value. In just a few weeks, the second active leading rusher in the NCAA took a big step towards regaining his stature as one of the top senior RB prospects.

Joseph Addai, LSU (5SR) – a crowded backfield situation in LSU was thinned out by the loss of 2004 leading rusher 3JR Alley Broussard to a torn ACL before the season began. With a strong preseason, Addai became the primary option and is off to a great start. After their season opener was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina, the Tigers started with an emotional and exciting win at Arizona State. Addai rushed for 16-109-2 (6.8 ypc), and added 3-24-0 receiving. He was the primary back, with 5SR Shyrone Carey seeing 11 carries and 9 for 4JR Justin Vincent. Hurricane Rita pushed their home opener against Tennessee to 9/26. The defense forced a turnover deep in Vol territory on the first possession, and Addai took the carry on their first play 19 yards for a TD, starting a run that put the Tigers up 21-0 in the first half. However, the Vols came back and the Tigers lost 30-27 in overtime, with Addai finishing with 84 yards on 16 carries (5.3 ypc) against a strong Tennessee defense. As primarily a third down back in 2004, Addai is an excellent receiver and polished blocker, skills lacking in many feature RBs coming out of college. Now with the opportunity to show what he can do as the primary runner, his draft value would jump greatly with a productive season.

Rising Slightly

Andre Hall, South Florida (4SR) – opened the season 9/3 with a loss against an improved Penn State squad with a good defense. Hall was limited to 74 yards on 21 carries (3.5 ypc), but added 4 receptions for 27 yards. He got back on track in the home opener the following week, posting 18-156-3 (8.7 ypc) on D-IAA Florida A&M in a blowout win. He found similar success against Central Florida on 9/17, finishing with 22-155-1 and 2-34-1. On 9/24, he scored the first and final TD in a shocking 45-14 upset of Louisville, the Bulls first defeat ever of a ranked opponent. Hall didn’t have a great statistical day (83 yard on 22 carries), but he pounded the ball away in the second half, keeping the potent Cardinal offense off the field, and helping protect their lead. His performance in a marquee game like that helps his value more than running over some clearly overmatched opponents in non-conference games. One of the top JUCO transfers last year, Hall had a tremendous debut in the major college ranks in 2004 and is quickly building on it this year.

Jerome Harrison, Washington State (4SR) – started where he left off last season, with 24-165-2 in a season opening win against Idaho on 9/1. He started the game with an 80-yard run, flashing his home run ability, on the first play from scrimmage and had 134 yards at the half. Kept it going at Nevada on 9/9, where he posted 18-121-0 in basically a half. 1FR DeMaundray Woolridge also had 100 yards in the game, seeing most of the action in the second half. The following week against D-IAA Grambling State, Harrison had his sixth consecutive 100-yard game, dating back to last year. He finished with 23-113-3 and 2-56-0. Granted, the opponents have been sub-par, but Harrison is producing exactly what is expected for a top back against a lower level of competition. If he continues to be this productive once the Cougars get into the PAC-10 schedule, he’ll rise up draft boards this fall. He had a bye on 9/24 and ended the week fourth in the nation in rushing at 133 yards per game.

Patrick Cobbs, North Texas (5SR) – their season opener at LSU was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina, so the Mean Green kicked off their season at Middle Tennessee on 9/10. Cobbs, the 2003 D-IA rushing leader who missed most of 2004 with an injury, was the firepower in the 14-7 victory over the Blue Raiders. He scored their only offensive TD while rushing 28 times for 103 yards (3.7 ypc), as well as catching 4 for 36 and returning 2 kicks for 56 yards. 2SO Jamario Thomas, the 2004 D-IA rushing leader, had 10 rushes for 58 yards. The following week, while getting destroyed 54-2 by Tulsa, Cobbs again got the majority of the workload and was more effective. He finished with 17-100-0 (5.9 ypc), while Thomas had just 13 yards on 7 carries (1.9 ypc). Cobbs was significantly less successful at KSU on 9/24. He was limited to 12-34-0, while Thomas, playing through a hamstring injury, was slightly more productive with 11-62-0. When Thomas exploded in 2004, it looked like it would be challenging for Cobbs to be productive enough to be back on the radar of scouts. He was off to a good start with back-to-back 100-yard games, but his struggles last week could open the door for carries to be split more evenly again. Cobbs is undersized and isn’t in a marquee conference, so he’ll need to produce like he did in 2003 again to continue creeping back up draft boards.

Antonio Warren, Arkansas State (5SR) – hidden away in the Sun Belt conference, Warren is one of the best kept secrets at RB in this senior class. After a breakout 2004, where he rushed for 1,000 yards, he has been running wild the first four games, and not just against lesser competition. Despite being crushed at Missouri on 9/3 to open the season, Warren ran for 121 yards on 18 carries, including a 6-yard TD. In their home opener against D-IAA Tennesse-Martin, he cruised for 128 yards on 12 carries, including TD runs of 9 and 51 yards. The highlight of his season so far came on 9/17 when the Indians gave Oklahoma State a scare in Stillwater. Warren went 22-132-0 in a 20-10 loss where turnovers and sloppy play stopped Arkansas State from a major upset. On 9/24 he was on his way to his biggest game of the year against Florida International before getting injured. He rushed 8 times for 143 yards in the first half, including a 50-yard TD, before suffering a high ankle sprain and sitting out the rest of the game. 4SR Shemar Bracey took over and had 105 yards on 9 carries, including TD runs of 16 and 34 yards. It was Bracey’s second 100-yard game of the season, as he hung 5-102-1 in the blowout of Tennesse-Martin. Bracey actually has better measurables, but his achievements have all been in mop-up time of blowouts. If Warren misses any significant time and Bracey produces similarly in a starting role, we may be talking about him next time. Warren’s status for the 10/1 game at Louisiana-Monroe is questionable, but if he can return soon and return to the level he was producing at, which has him sixth in the nation in rushing with 131 yards per game and with a ridiculous 8.73 ypc, he could be a name to remember in April. He is also a good kick returner.


DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (4SR) – after starting QB Patrick Byrnes broke his leg on the first drive of the season opener on 9/5, Ole Miss was able to completely focus on Williams, limiting him to just 85 yards on 24 carries (3.5 ypc) in a loss. After a bye, Williams bounced back with 3 TDs and his fifth career 200-yard game in 59-14 blowout of Tennessee-Chattanooga on 9/17. The bye week gave new QB 2FR Will Hudgens an extra week to prepare, and he also performed very well, too. However, the Mocs are a D-IAA team, which tempers the accomplishments of Williams and, in particular, Hudgens. The following week was a more reassuring performance, despite a loss to Tulsa in overtime. Williams had 200 yards and 3 TDs again, finishing with 30-223-3. It was his sixth career 200-yard game and fifth in his last eight games. He also became the C-USA all-time leading rusher, passing Mewelde Moore. Already the top rated senior RB prospect, it’s hard for his value to rise anymore, but if he can continue to carry this team after the loss of their starting QB and post 200-yard days with the giant bulls-eye on his back, it will.

Mike Bell, Arizona (5SR) – after rushing for 99 yards on 18 carries (5.5 ypc) in a loss at Utah, Bell left in the fourth quarter with a wrist injury. He average 6.7 yards on 12 first half carries, but saw the ball only six times in the second half. His wrist was fine for their home opener against Northern Arizona on 9/10 and once again lit up the D-IAA team, rushing for 24-122-1. The rushing game struggled against Purdue the following week and Bell was stuffed several times, finishing with just 43 yards on 14 carries, but he did catch 4 for 38. The Wildcats had a bye the week of 9/24. Although it should be another tough year for the Arizona, Bell has ideal size for a feature back and will be successful enough in a major conference that he will be a name to watch at the Combine.

Damien Rhodes, Syracuse (4SR) – an ineffective day for the Orange offense overall limited Rhodes, as he finished with 16-46-1 and 7-21-0, which accounted for more than 60% of their offense their season opening loss to West Virginia on 9/4. A week later, he got on track against a bad Buffalo team, almost breaking a few school records with 236 yards on 28 carries and 4 TDs. Rhodes had 216 yards on 19 carries in the first half as the Orange cruised to a 31-0 win on 9/10. In a heartbreaking loss to Virginia the following week on a last second field goal, Rhodes came back to earth against a much better defense. He finished with 79 yards on 27 carries and caught 2 passes for 30 yards. The Orange had a bye the week of 9/24. A tremendous size/speed package who finally has the opportunity to be the feature back with Walter Reyes gone, Rhodes should keep rising up draft boards as long as he is productive and healthy. His struggles have come against two good teams, so they don’t hurt his value much, and his involvement in the passing game will only help it.

Chris Barclay, Wake Forest (4SR) – he was suspended for the first game of the season on 9/1 for a violation of team rules. However, the suspension cost him not just a game, but also his job. 3SO Micah Andrews blew up for 254 yards on 34 carries in a loss to Vanderbilt, the best rushing day in school history, and kept the starting job. In a thrashing at Nebraska the following week, Andrews started and posted 19-64-0 (3.4 ypc), while Barclay backed him up and had 11-60-0 (5.5 ypc). It didn’t take Barclay long to make an impact against East Carolina. Andrews started, but Barclay had 3 TDs in the first half, which gave him the school’s career rushing TD record, on his way to tying a school single-game record with four. He finished with 210 yards, the second 200-yard effort of his career, on 25 carries (8.4 ypc). Andrews did not look bad either against the overmatched Pirates, posting 22-142-0 (6.5 ypc). Wake Forest was averaging 270 rushing yards a game, but on 9/24 in a loss to Maryland, the Terrapins held them to 111. Regardless, the season outlook for Barclay continued to rebound. He made his first start of the season and despite a tough day for Wake Forest overall against the Terrapins, he had a respectable 10-86-1 (4.3 ypc). Meanwhile, Andrews had just 23 yards on 6 carries and didn’t get another touch after a costly fumble in the second quarter. Not only has Barclay regained the starting role, but Andrews is now in the doghouse of HC Jim Grobe. Still, Barclay will have to keep his nose clean and keep producing to keep his draft value up.

P.J. Daniels, Georgia Tech (5SR) – started the season rock solid and tremendously consistent in helping Yellow Jackets to a 3-0 record with wins at Auburn, against UNC, and against UConn. He’s had 21-25 carries each game and posted 103-114 each game for a 4.8 ypc, but only reached the end zone once in the season opener. Oklahoma transfer 3SO Tashard Choice and his potential are beginning to be a threat to Daniel’s production, as Choice saw significant work against UConn on 9/17, finishing with 20-89-2. On 9/24, the were crushed 51-7 at Virginia Tech, and Daniels only had 10 carries for 48 yards, as Georgia Tech was quickly forced to the air to try and keep up. Choice was less effective splitting carries, finishing with 9-29-0. There is nothing physically exceptional about Daniels, as far as his prospects for the next level, but he has been a consistent producer in a major conference.

Jerod Void, Purdue (5SR) – being in a RBBC at a school known for passing the ball isn’t a good way to showcase yourself to NFL scouts, but Void was off to a good start. He rushed for over 100 yards in both of the Boilermakers’ first two games, and already has 4 TDs. Things changed at Minnesota on 9/24, where the running game, for the most part, stalled. Change of pace back 2FR Kory Sheets turned in the big rushing plays of day, an 88-yard run 9setting up a 2-yard TD run for Void) and a 5-yard TD that gave Purdue the lead in the first overtime. Sheets finished with 10-101-1, but without the long run, his 9 carries for 13 yards wasn’t any more effective than Void’s 26 yards on 8 carries. However, Sheets brings the home run threat that Void lacks, so Sheets should continue to see about 10 carries a game. Void was stuffed on a key third-and-one in the second OT, then the subsequent pass on fourth down was dropped and the Boilermakers were upset 42-35. Despite average speed, he has great size, decent hands, and a nose for the end zone. He won’t be a high draft pick, but brings a variety of skills that, if combined with solid productivity this year, could raise him from UDFA to a Day Two pick.

Falling Slightly

Wali Lundy, Virginia (4SR) – unfortunate start to a final season in which he has to provide the consistency to match his potential to prove to NFL scouts that he can be a feature back. On the second offensive series of their first game against Western Michigan on 9/3, he came up lame on his third carry after a 28-yard run. A foot sprain ended his day. 2FR Cedric Peerman and 4JR Michael Johnson (4JR) rotated to replace Lundy at RB, but neither was impressive. It was FB 4JR Jason Snelling who led the team in rushing. Despite a bye gave him more time to recover, and he did practice during the game week, he did not play in 27-24 win at Syracuse on 9/17. He dressed for the game, but after testing his foot during pregame, it was decided he would be held out another week. He watched from the sidelines and Peerman and Johnson successfully replaced him. The two combined for 245 yards and four TDs in the two games they replaced him, with Johnson flashing his home run ability on a 70-yard run TD run against the Orange. Lundy returned for the 9/24 homecoming game against Duke and started. The offense struggled in the first half, with Lundy finding little room to run against a Blue Devil defense that had been allowing well over 100 yards rushing a game. The Cavs eventually blew out Duke 38-7, but Lundy finished with just 20 yards on 10 carries and 3 catches for 16 yards. Peerman had 10 carries for 47 yards, including a 17-yard TD run to seal the victory early in the fourth quarter. Johnson had 9 carries for 45 yards, including 8 straight carries early in the second half on the first TD drive for Virginia. The performance showed Lundy still isn’t 100 percent, or at least is running tentatively. He didn’t practice the following Monday, but is expected to play against Maryland on 10/1. He’ll need to be significantly more productive to stop HC Al Groh from decreasing his work. Lundy has gained at least 800 rushing yards in each of his first three seasons and his 41 all-purpose TDs are the second most in VA history, but he has always shared the load. He needs to prove he can be a feature back this season to propel himself among the top senior RB prospects, and his injury is jeopardizing his ability to do that.

Leon Washington, FSU (4SR) – has equally shared carries with 4JR Lorenzo Booker, with Washington being slightly less productive. Washington has 25-111-1 (4.4 ypc), while Booker has 23-122-2 (5.3 ypc) through three victories (they had a bye on 9/24). The problems at QB won’t help Washington’s production this year, either. Until a consistent passing threat is established, teams will focus on their dynamic backfield. Washington is a bit undersized, but his explosiveness and all-purpose talent help his draft value, he just hasn’t flashed them as much yet this year as he did in 2004.

Cedric Humes, Virginia Tech (5SR) – he has pretty much split carries right down the middle with 4SR Mike Imoh, who, despite being slightly more productive, is to small to be considered a top prospect. Humes has 46-188-3 (4.5 ypc) and Imoh has 50-223-2. Humes' best performance was their home opener against Ohio on 9/17, where he had 75 yards on 15 carries (5.0 ypc) and 2 TDs as the Hokies started the year 3-0. Humes looked to be the heir to Kevin Jones as the feature back heading into last year, but a broken leg hurt him at the beginning of the season and Imoh has been in the picture since. He’ll never have carried the load himself in college, so his draft value will be highly reliant on the Combine and workouts.

Falling Significantly

Selvin Young, Texas (4SR) – posted 8-67-1, but sat out most of the second half in their opening day demolition of UL-Lafayette as a precaution after twisting his left ankle. Of greater concern than his injury was the production of the rest of the Longhorn backfield. Ramonce Taylor (2SO) was very effective as an all-purpose back, while true freshman Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton exploded on the scene. Melton rumbled for two TDs, while Charles had one, in addition to a freshman-record 135 yards rushing. The rushing game never got going at Ohio State against a strong Buckeye defense on 9/10. Young carried 5 times for 11 yards before aggravating his ankle injury and sitting out the second half. Despite his limited touches, he managed to lose a fumble and drop a pitch. After getting a vote of confidence from HC Mack Brown the following week, he did not play against Rice. Charles got the start and looked like the next great Longhorn RB, finishing with 16-189-3. Granted, it was Rice, but Melton and Taylor also had significant contributions. Young sat on contact drills during their 9/24 bye week to rehab his ankle. He was cleared and began practicing the week leading up to their 10/1 game with Missouri and is expected to play. HC Mack Brown appears to remain committed to Young as the starter when he returns. However, at best, Young returns to a RBBC, because Charles has to remain in the picture. Despite Young’s potential and appealing measurables, he’s been injury-prone and it looks like he will not have shown he can carry the workload of a feature back, two issues that will hurt his draft value.

Seymore Shaw, Central Oklahoma (5SR) – after more legal problems resulted in his indefinite suspension from Oklahoma State by new HC Mike Gundy, Shaw decided to transfer to Central Oklahoma (DII). Already in his last year of eligibility, Shaw couldn’t transfer to another D-IA program and play. He was in a position to be the next great Cowboy RB, after being overshadowed by a pair of future NFL backs (Tatum Bell and Vernand Morency) the last few years. Regardless of his success this year, he’s never shown he can carry the load at the D-IA level and comes with a lot of baggage, so he has all but eliminated his chances of being anything more than a very late pick or UDFA. He has rushed for 469 yards and 4 TDs through the first five games (108 attempts) as the primary back for the Broncos

De’Arrius Howard, Arkansas (5SR) – got off to a great start with 12-120-0 in a season opening win against Missouri and 21-139-1 in a loss to an improved Vanderbilt team. Despite sharing carries with 2SO Peyton Hillis, the ground game was rolling and Howard looked on his way to a breakout season. The team ran into a buzz saw at #1 USC. In particular, Howard (9-4-0) and Hillis (8-19) struggled, and so talented true freshmen Felix Jones and Darren McFadden were given more touches. McFadden responded with 88 yard on 13 carries and Jones had 66 on 12. The following week at Alabama on 9/24 was more of the same. Against the Tide’s tough run defense, he managed just 16 yards on 5 carries, while McFadden, Jones, and Hillis saw more work and were more productive. McFadden flashed his home run ability on a 70-yard TD run to keep the Razorbacks in the game into the fourth quarter. The future arrived early, and this means Hillis is no longer the only player who will hurt Howard’s production, but that two freshman may kill it. Having shared work his entire collegiate career, Howard needed a big season to showcase himself. With perhaps the backfield crowded with the most talent in the country, it seems unlikely Howard will not get that chance.

P.J. Pope, Bowling Green (4SR) – after a big Spring Game, Pope looked ready to post his third consecutive 1,000-yard season in a the potent Falcon offense. However, he went down in the season opener at Wisconsin on 9/3 with two sprained ankles. He had 24 yards on 8 carries and caught 3 passes for 10 yards before leaving. 5SR B.J. Lane replaced him and started the following week at Ball State, as Pope was inactive. He returned at Boise State 9/21, but as the Broncos got out to a quick lead, the Falcons offense never got on track, and Pope finished with just 8-19-0. Their next game isn’t until 10/1, so he had some more time to heal and hopefully get back on track. Undersized and lacking speed, Pope is not an elite physical specimen. His tremendous productivity was key to keeping him on the radar of NFL teams. Until he is fully healthy and productive again, his stock plummets.

Top Underclassmen Eligible for Draft

The potential top talent in the 2006 draft class looks to be in the underclassmen. At least two of the first three RBs drafted are likely to be underclassmen (if they declare), with DeAngelo Williams being the only senior locked into the discussion at this time. What Reggie Bush and Laurence Maroney decide to do will greatly affect which other underclassmen decide to declare. If they both come out, it knocks everyone else down the ladder a couple rungs, so some of the other underclassmen may decide it would be better to stay for their final season of eligibility and work to be a higher pick in 2007.

Reggie Bush, USC (3JR) – jumped right in where he left off last year, posting 12-86-2, including a 41-yard TD run, and 4-58-0 at Hawaii in the season opener. After a bye, the Trojans faced Arkansas in their home opener on 9/17. On his first carry, Bush took a simple dive and with his electrifying running skills, turned it into a 76-yard TD. He finished with 8-125-1 and 3-70-1. The following week at Oregon, with the Trojans down 13-0 late in the second quarter, Bush caught a 19-yard TD pass to put USC on the board and start a run of seven unanswered scoring drives. He was a workhorse in the game, also running for a TD, to finish with 122 yards on 20 carries and 43 yards on 3 receptions, as well as returning 4 punts for 27 yards and 3 kicks for 75 yards. After seeing the most work he had yet for the season in the Oregon game, he was a little sore the following week and missed some practice, but appears fine and will be ready for their next game. It’s irrelevant that Bush shares carries with 3JR LenDale White and will see less work when the dominating Trojans have another game well in hand, he is already recognized as the most electrifying offensive threat in college. Bush just needs to remain healthy and demonstrate his expected measurables in pre-draft workouts to have a great shot at being the first RB drafted in 2006, if he declares.

Laurence Maroney, Minnesota (3JR) – with an easy opening schedule, Maroney flew out of the blocks, as expected, and is second in the nation is rushing with 160 yards per game. He had his first career 200-yard game at Tulsa in a little over a half, going 21-203-2, sitting most of the second half in the blowout victory. He had 133 yards in their home opener against Colorado State and put another 145 on Florida Atlantic, rushing for 2 TDs in each game, as well. Notably, his involvement in the passing game has increased this year, which will only help his draft value. After catching 4 career passes in his two previous seasons, he has already caught 4 for 69 and a TD in three games. On 9/24 he had the type of statement game Heisman voters look for with a career day in a double-overtime victory against 11th-ranked Purdue. In the game, Maroney had a career-high 217 yards on 46 carries and caught 5 passes for 59 yards, including a 17-yard pass on third-and-nine that kept a drive alive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a TD giving the Gophers a 17-7 lead early in the third quarter. Minnesota went on to win 42-35 in double-overtime and the only small issue of the day was 2SO Gary Russell continues to get the short-yardage TD carries. Russell has two rushing TDs in each game this year and although the situation isn’t the same split as it was between Maroney and Barber in the past, a team that now looks like a Big Ten contender won’t want to wear out Maroney. Russell is clearly showing the talent that dictates he continue to get work, which will put a dent in Maroney’s production. Regardless, with two 200-yard days already under his belt, and more involvement in the passing game, he is fully showcasing his talent to be considered one of the first RBs taken in 2006, if he declares.

Michael Bush, Louisville (3JR) – with Lionel Gates and Eric Shelton off to the NFL, there is another RB named Bush who could make a case to be a first round pick in 2006. He started off the season with his fourth career 100-yard game at Kentucky, finishing with 27-128-2 and 2-24-0. In a blowout of Oregon State on 9/17, his workload was limited as the game was out of hand by the third quarter. He had 57 yards and 2 TDs on 11 carries, grabbing 3 passes for another 40 yards. On 9/24 the Cardinals’ hopes of an undefeated season, and likely a shot at a national championship, were unexpectedly taken away at South Florida. Bush did his part, rushing 18 times for 81 yards (4.5 ypc) and scoring the only two Louisville TDs, both on 1-yard runs, but he was limited as the team had to go to the air to keep up with the Bulls in a 45-14 loss. Bush, a former stud prep QB, is a supersized back in the Greg Jones and Brandon Jacobs mode, but with more athleticism. He’ll be a tremendously intriguing prospect if he declares early.

LenDale White, USC (3JR) – after a tumultuous off-season, White got off to a solid, but unspectacular, start. He had 13-69-0 at Hawaii and 10-60-2 against Arkansas, as well as 2 passes for 30 yards. He had his best day at Oregon on 9/24, rushing for 15-111-2, but was still overshadowed by Bush. The two have split carries down the middle (38 to Bush’s 40), with White a bit less productive (6.3 ypc to 8.3 for Bush), and both have 4 rushing TDs. With Bush likely to declare, White would be best served waiting until 2007 when Bush and QB Matt Leinhart will be out of the picture. However, with an obvious disinterest in academics, his best choice might be to declare early. If he does, he’ll be one of the steals of the draft, because he has a ton of upside, just brighter stars around him that may cause him to fall a bit in the draft.

Thomas Clayton, KSU (4JR) – the FSU transfer overcame a torn ACL in 2003 and lack of opportunity behind Darren Sproles last year to be one of the breakout stories early this season. He leads the nation in rushing after posting 17-177-2 against Florida International and 16-152-1 at Marshall. He’s also caught 4 passes for 47 yards and another TD so far. Clayton ended the week leading the nation is rushing after two games. Unfortunately, the Wildcats had a bye on 9/17 and Clayton got himself in a little trouble with the law. The incident began over university parking services employee tried to prevent Clayton from leaving in his car after the employee phoned in for Clayton’s car to be booted, as he apparently has multiple parking violations. Allegedly, Clayton fled the scene, nearly hitting the employee, and was later arrested for aggravated battery. A bad decision, but not a big deal. However, with a clearly overmatched North Texas team up next at home, HC Bill Snyder apparently decided to send a message to him and/or demonstrate he can be a disciplinarian, and benched Clayton for the 54-7 rout of the Mean Green on 9/24. The running game didn’t miss a beat without him, as the Wildcats rolled up a school-record 658 yards of total offense, led on the ground by 2FR Parrish Fisher. Fisher had 169 yards on 21 carries and also caught 2 passes for 59 yards. Back-up RBs 5SR Carlos Alsup and 4JR Donnie Anders had 3 rushing TDs between them. Not surprisingly, HC Bill Snyder indicated he’d play 10/1 at Oklahoma. I wonder if the incident happened the week prior to an important game, like Oklahoma, if Snyder would have shown the same concern for discipline and benched his star RB…regardless, it’s a minor incident and if Clayton continues to bang out 150+ yard games against top Big XII competition, he’ll be in a good position to possibly declare early.

Maurice Drew, UCLA (3JR) – if it weren’t for Reggie Bush, everyone would be talking about Drew being the most electrifying player in the country. In addition to his talents at RB, he has already has returned 2 punts for TDs. With Manny White gone, his rushing responsibility has increased. He went over 100 yards and 2 TDs to open the season at San Diego State and followed it up with 95 and a score in the home opener against Rice. On 9/17, a struggling Oklahoma came to town, and the Bruins proved they were for real, beating the Sooners handily. Drew contributed 15-69-1 and 2-26-0 in the 41-24 win. The team had a bye the week of 9/24.

Lorenzo Booker, FSU (4JR) – has been slightly more productive while equally splitting carries with 4SR Leon Washington. Washington has 25-111-1 (4.4 ypc), while Booker has 23-122-2 (5.3 ypc) through three victories (they had a bye on 9/24). The problems at QB won’t help Booker’s production this year, either. Until a consistent passing threat is established, teams will focus on their dynamic backfield. A highly-touted prospect when he came into college football, he hasn’t had a chance to be the feature back yet, so his production hasn’t been nearly enough to compliment his potential. It’s unlikely he’ll declare early unless an injury to Washington allows him to carry the load for much of this season.

Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin (4JR) – the Badgers running game has been plug-and-play under Barry Alvarez, but Calhoun’s debut has been extremely impressive nonetheless. A former leading rusher for Colorado, he had to sit out last season after transferring, but proceeded to immediately make his mark in a season-opening win over Bowling Green at Camp Randall. He rushed for 258 yards on 43 carries and tied a school record with 5 rushing TDs. The encore the following week was a letdown, as he finished with just 11-42-1 as his day was done by halftime since Wisconsin was routing Temple. He got back on track at UNC, where he posted 38-171-2 and 4-26. The first major test of the season awaited the following week against Michigan on 9/24. Calhoun was up to the challenge, helping the Badgers come from behind with incredible efforts of 35-155-1 on the ground and 7-59-0 through the air. In addition to his tremendous running skills, a few other things standout that enhance his draft value. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and his 59 yards receiving are the most by a RB in a game during Barry Alvarez’s tenure. He is also not afraid to stick his nose in there, throwing a key block on the game-winning QB sneak. Finally, despite being on the low end of the ideal size for a feature RB, he is a workhorse that has carried the ball 35+ times in 3 of 4 games already. The flipside to that is concern that he’ll break down. He has accounted for 770 all-purpose yards, almost half of Wisconsin’s total offense, so his durability will either prove to be remarkable or hurt him later in the season.

Tyrone Moss, Miami (3JR) – finally having the opportunity to be the feature back, Moss has made the most of it so far. Despite a disappointing loss at FSU on 9/5 to open the season, Moss ran for 102 yards on 23 carries against an outstanding Seminole defense. The following week at Clemson, he might have saved Miami’s season, as well as erased some doubt that he can be the next superstar Hurricane RB. He rushed for 139 yards on 31 carries and 3 TDs, including a game winning 25-yard run in the third overtime. In beating Colorado handily on 9/24, he saw a decreased workload and posted just 14-44-0 (3.1 ypc). This type of inconsistency is what has prevented him from already having achieved more. If he can consistently produce like he did the first two games of the season and put together a big year, he could be inclined to make the jump, as the talent is lined up behind him to be the next Cane Stud at RB.