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2006 NFL RB Draft Class
Version 3.0 - Stock Watch through Week 10

We last took a look at where the top RB prospects for 2006 stood about a third of the way through the season. As we’re two thirds of the way through the season, injuries and disappointing production by a few guys have shaken things up a bit. This review is not organized as a ranking of these prospects, but rather how their performance since the last time we reviewed them has helped or hurt their draft value since then. I’ll take a shot at ranking them at the end of the season, then after the Combine, and a final ranking prior to the draft. At this point, without the benefit of knowing what injuries and workout results lay ahead, it looks like Reggie Bush will be the first RB selected, challenging his QB Matt Leinart to be the first player drafted overall. DeAngelo Williams remains the top senior prospect, and the biggest threat to Bush of being the top RB selected. Jerome Harrison and DonTrell Moore are the next tier of senior prospects, with about five underclassmen looking to be as good as, or better, prospects, if they declare. Let’s take a deeper look at what is going on with them and all the top RB prospects for the 2006 Draft……

Rising Significantly

DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (4SR) – after the Tigers lost their second starting QB in three games to a broken leg, Williams simply elevated his game to an even higher level. 2FR Will Hudgens went down in the Tigers’ loss at Tulsa on 9/24. The following week, Memphis faced an unbeaten UTEP on 10/1. Williams rushed for 236 yards on 35 carries, both highs for the season, and scored 2 TDs, including the game-winner with 50 seconds left. His three-game 200-yard rushing string was snapped in a loss at Central Florida the following week, as he posted 14-136-0. At Houston on 10/15, he just missed 200 again, finishing with 33-198-2 in a win. The following week in a win against ECU, he had his fourth 200-yard game of the season, eighth of his career, getting 226 yards and 2 TDs on a career-high 39 carries. It was his eighth 200-yard rushing game of his career and seventh in his last twelve games.

Williams leads the nation in rushing with 184.50 yards per game, as well as all-purpose yards with 195 per game, and has an amazing 6.83 ypc average, despite wearing a huge bulls eye on his back each game. The school and conference all-time leading rusher, he currently sits at seventh on the all-time NCAA D-IA list with 5,538 yards, two yards behind Cedric Benson in sixth. He has carried a mediocre Memphis team with no other significant threats, to a 4-4 record. Despite his amazing individual achievement, he will be lucky to be one of the five invited to NY as Heisman finalist, much less have a chance at winning. However, he’ll be rewarded on Draft Day, where he should be a first round pick and likely one of the top three RBs selected.

Jerome Harrison, Washington State (4SR) – finally into the PAC-10 schedule, Harrison demonstrated the same success he did in the first three games against non-conference cupcakes. Despite injuring his shoulder the prior week in practice, he rushed for 103 yards and 3 TDs in the first half at Oregon State, to put the Cougars up 30-16. However, the Beavers capitalized on four interceptions and as they started to take over in the fourth quarter, the Cougars took to the air more. Harrison finished with 31-124-3. He then rattled off back-to-back 200-yard days, with 29-218-1 (7.5 ypc) against Stanford and 34-260-2 (7.6 ypc) against UCLA. In a 28-42 loss at Cal on 10/22, he aggravated his shoulder injury and had to sit out a series in the third quarter, but finished with 162 yards on 26 carries, nearly leading the team to an upset victory. He posted 21-147-1 in a blow loss at USC on 10/29. He had his third 200-yard game in a close loss against ASU on 11/5, finishing with 240 yards and 2 TDs on a career-high 38 carries. He is the only D-IA RB with 100 yards in each game this season and tied J.J. Arrington’s PAC-10 record of 12 consecutive 100-yard games against ASU. He is second in the nation, behind DeAngelo Williams, with 172.22 yards per game.

It is apropos that he tied Arrington’s record, because he compares very well to the former Cal RB. A bit undersized and under the radar heading into the season, he has emerged as one of the top senior prospects with an incredible season. He has true home run speed that should help propel him in workouts and result in him being one of the rising names after the Combine, depending on what underclassmen declare, possibly a second round pick.

DonTrell Moore, New Mexico (5SR) – after a strong start coming off a torn ACL to end last season, Moore had his best game of the season to-date in a loss at TCU on 10/1. The Horned Frogs got off to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Lobos rode their best player and Moore got them back in the game with 3 TDs as New Mexico answered with 28 straight points to tie the game. Moore finished with 129 yards on 21 carries (6.1 ypc) and a career-high 99 yards receiving on 9 catches. The 3 combined TDs give him 50 for his career, breaking Luke Staley’s conference record. His 42 career rushing TDs is also a Mountain West record he took from Staley. His string of three-straight 100-yard games was broken in a loss to BYU the following week, where he posted 22-87-1. His next two games went a long way to proving he is fully back from his knee injury and ready to carry the load at the next level. He rushed for a season-high 181 yards on a season-high 36 carries in a win at Wyoming. He scored 3 TDs, including 6-yard scoring runs on back-to-back drives to put the team up for good early in the fourth quarter. Demonstrating incredible resiliency, he got another 36 carries the following week, rushing for 162 yards and a TD, as well as grabbing 6 passes for 61 yards, in another road win at San Diego State. With a 37-yard run in the first quarter against Colorado State on 10/28, he broke the 1,000-yard mark for the season and became the seventh player in NCCA D-IA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. He scored from the 1-yard line on the next play, the first of two TDs for him on the night. He finished the game with 117 rushing yards on 19 carries, his 25th career 100-yard game. The team had a bye on 11/5.

Moore’s triumphant return from major knee surgery in February and return to form less than nine months later has not only secured his place in record books, but completely salvaged his draft value. He is one of the top five senior NFL RB prospects and should be a Day One pick. He lacked elite speed even before the injury, but has good size with great elusiveness and instincts. He has also shown to be a reliable and productive receiver this season. He is second on the team with 27 receptions and 3 receiving TDs. Despite his skills, I really think his speed could end up being a problem that affects his draft status.

Taurean Henderson, Texas Tech (5SR) – undersized dynamo is overlooked in the Red Raiders air-based attack, but he has been extremely productive and is one of the most versatile players in NCAA history. He is the active NCAA leader in TDs and set the NCAA record for receptions by a RB against KSU on 10/15, where he had 118 yards and 2 TDs on 10 receptions, as well as 49 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. He is the only player in NCAA history with over 2,000 yards rushing and receiving in his career.

Many, including myself earlier this year, have under appreciated Henderson’s production and accomplishments. While a bit undersized for a feature back, he is a Mewelde Moore-type of player who simply gets the job done running and catching. He won’t be a high draft pick, but his productivity won’t be forgotten on Day Two.

Rising Slightly

Chris Barclay, Wake Forest (4SR) – continued to turn his season around against Clemson on 10/1, as he posted 22-105-0 (4.8 ypc) in a victory. 3SO Micah Andrews, who started the season opener when Barclay was suspended and proceeded to briefly keep the starting job, was a non-factor. Andrews had 6 yards on 3 carries and continued to be phased out of the picture the rest of the year. Barclay put up 125 yards rushing, at a clip of 6 ypc, as well as 31 receiving, against a tough Seminole defense at FSU. He posted 23-91-1 in a loss at BC the following week, he had a career-high 36 carries for 117 yards (3.3 ypc) in a win against NC State. He had his second 200-yard game of the season at Duke on 10/29, a career day where he had 2 TDs, including a 71-yard scoring run and averaged 11.3 ypc. The following week at Georgia Tech, the ACC rushing leader had his worst game of the season, gaining just 24 yards on 15 carries. In the game, he went over 1,000 yards for the third straight season. He already owns most school career records for a RB.

Barclay seems to have digressed a bit each year since his breakout true sophomore campaign. However, he bounced back from some adversity at the beginning of the season and had another durable and productive season. An undersized slasher, he does have breakaway speed, but will face discrimination in getting a chance to be a feature back at the next level due to his size. His consistent and significant production over his career hasn’t gotten much recognition at a mediocre Wake Forest program, so he’ll need to make a name for himself at an all-star game and in the Combine and workouts. Very hard to project at this point, since he is the type of player who could fall through cracks come April.

Terrence Whitehead, Oregon (4SR) – largely overlooked due to some bigger names in the PAC-10, Whitehead is quietly putting together another very good year and helping the Ducks put together a surprisingly good season. His best game of the season was at Arizona State on 10/8, where had 100 yards rushing and receiving. He finished with 21-122-1 (5.8 ypc) and 9-100-1. However, his biggest game was a win against Cal on 11/5, where he had his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and tenth of his career. He had 119 yards and a TD on 20 carries (6.0 ypc) and added 72 yards receiving.

Whitehead is one of the best-kept secrets of the senior RB prospects. He is a bit short, but very sturdy and has been impressive enough to hold off blue chip 1FR Jonathan Stewart. He will be a name to watch as through the post-season festivities leading up to Draft Day.


Andre Hall, South Florida (4SR) – at Miami on 10/1, South Florida looked nothing like the team that shocked Louisville the previous week. The Bulls were run over by the Hurricanes 27-7. Hall was limited to 53 futile yards on 19 carries (2.8 ypc) as Miami took a quick 17-0 lead and the Bulls had to go to the air. He also caught 3 passes for 17 yards. In a classic example of a player padding his stats on lesser competition, Hall has rushed for 135 or more yards in six of his last ten starts. The four games he failed to do it in were against ranked opponents, Pittsburgh last year, and this year at Penn State (not ranked at the time, but they are now), against Louisville, and at Miami. He was held under 90 yards in each of those games and under 4.0 ypc in the three this year. However, that observation is merely to put some of his bigger games into perspective. He should be dominating lesser competition. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be worth discussing. The Bulls are not a top program, so it isn’t just one player who is outclassed when facing that level of competition. He is still an excellent prospect and would be capable of more against better competition with more consistency, not to mention quality, in his supporting cast. After a bye the week of 10/8, he was limited rushing once again in a loss at Pittsburgh on 10/15. He finished with 79 yards on 19 carries, a 4.2 ypc, but contributed significantly in the passing game, grabbing 8 passes for 145 yards, including a 76-yard TD catch. Hurricane Wilma pushed their next game against West Virginia back to 12/3. Hall was back on track at Rutgers on 11/5, posting 25-168-3 on the ground.

Mike Bell, Arizona (5SR) – had another tough outing against a ranked opponent. He finished with 60 yards on 19 carries (3.2 ypc) as the Wildcats were shut out by the Bears at California on 10/1. Same story at USC the following week, where he posted 10-38-0. Got back on track against Stanford on 10/15 with 21-88-1 (4.2 ypc). The following week he had a big game against Oregon, rushing for 158 yards on 20 carries, including a 50-yard TD run to keep the Wildcats within 7 near the end of the first half, although they eventually lost another close one. On 10/29 at Oregon State, Arizona finally beat a D-IA opponent, but Bell had little to do with it. He rushed for just 37 yards on 15 carries (2.5 ypc). The next week he was a huge part of an amazing victory over undefeated UCLA. Bell ran for 153 yards on 16 carries (9.6 ypc) and a TD, as well as grabbing a 51-yard pass. The offense was clicking on all cylinders in the shocking blowout, as back-up 4SR Gilbert Harris posted 16-113-1, putting the success of Bell’s day into perspective. Bell hasn’t had a passing game to compliment him to draw attention from opponents most of the year, until 1FR QB Willie Tuitama took over.

Jerious Norwood, Mississippi State (4SR) – toiling away quietly on a rebuilding Bulldog program, coming off 1,050 yards in 2004, the fifth-highest rushing total in school history, he is having another strong season, limited at times by his supporting cast. He had 100-yard days during a string of losses at Florida, to Houston, and at Kentucky through October, including a career-high 257 on 10.7 ypc against the Cougars. An elusive runner with great vision and quickness, he has decent measurables and great durability, never missing a game in his career.

P.J. Daniels, Georgia Tech (5SR) – after a bye on 10/1, he struggled against NC State, finishing with 61 yards on 22 carries (2.8 ypc), but he did run for a TD and have a season-high 45 yards receiving. At Duke on 10/15, he rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries before aggravating a shoulder injury he suffered in practice that week and leaving the game. With the game at Miami the following week cancelled due to Hurricane Wilma, he had some extra time to rest the shoulder. He came back strong against Clemson on 10/29, rushing for 100 yards on 21 carries, including the game-winning TD. He had another very good day against Wake Forest, posting 18-109-0 (6.1 ypc). 3SO Tashard Choice has been just as effective when give the opportunity.

Antonio Warren, Arkansas State (5SR) – Warren, the quiet star of the Sun Belt was sixth in the nation in rushing with 131 yards per game after four games, but a sprained ankle he suffered the prior week against Florida International kept him out of the conference opening loss at Louisiana-Monroe on 10/1. Bracey posted 23-91-0 in his absence. Warren returned against Florida Atlantic on 10/22 and picked up where he left off, posting another 100-yard day, as he did the following week in a loss at Middle Tennessee State, giving him 100 yards rushing in every game he played this season. Bracey missed the last two games, but has been equally effective. Both runners are averaging over 7 ypc. Warren ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 123.83 ypc.

Falling Slightly

Joseph Addai, LSU (5SR) – in an easy win at Mississippi State, Addai had 86 yards on 17 carries and a one-yard TD run as he sat out the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. He posted 24-102-1 in another easy win at Vanderbilt. In a huge game against Florida on 10/15, Addai had the best game of his career. Overcoming a costly fumble earlier, he remained focused on his was to career-highs of 32 carries and 156 yards (4.9 ypc), including a three-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that was the decisive score in the win. He also caught 3 passes for 37 yards in the game. He followed that up with another strong performance in another big game against Auburn, posting 24-105-0 and 4-31-0 in the win, despite suffering a concussion in the game. Regardless of the head injury, he started against North Texas the following week, but had to leave with an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return, as a precaution. Before leaving, he had 7 yards on 3 carries, including a TD, but ending his string of three-straight 100-yard games. He remained limited the following week and saw little action in an easy win at Homecoming over D-IAA Appalachian State, as he wasn’t needed. 4JR Justin Vincent carried the load in Addai’s absence. Vincent had a huge season as a redshirt freshman in their 2003 national championship run, including being MVP of the Sugar Bowl, but has struggled the last two years and shouldn’t stand in the way of Addai finishing the season strong.

Addai brings good size, great hands, and decent speed, but gets hurt a bit by missing the last couple of games, as this season was his first chance to show he could carry the load. He does a lot of things well, but nothing truly stands out. He is the type of player who could go higher than expected if one team falls in love with him, but his overall value will need some help from his all-star game, the Combine, and workouts.

Jerod Void, Purdue (5SR) – coming off his first disappointing outing at Minnesota, things got significantly worse against Notre Dame on 10/1. Void suffered a dislocated shoulder in the game after rushing 6 times for 38 yards (3.8 ypc) during a 49-28 thrashing by the Irish. 2FR Kory Sheets took advantage of the opportunity and flashed his big play ability for the second straight game, posting 6-66-2 and 2-36-0. Void missed the 10/8 loss to Iowa, and returned the next week in another loss to Northwestern. He posted 7-37-1 (5.3 ypc) sharing carries with Sheets. In back-to-back losses at PSU and Wisconsin, he averaged 12 carries and 55 yards, with Sheets still involved, but seeing less work. Void burst back on the scene helping against MSU on 11/5, helping the team break a five-game losing streak. He ran for a season-high 134 yards on 24 carries (5.6 ypc) and scored 3 TDs, including one on a career-long 64 yard run.

Falling Significantly

Gerald Riggs Jr., Tennessee (4SR) – his season ended in a 6-3 loss at Alabama on 10/22/05 when he seriously injured his right leg and ankle on a 24-yard run, his longest of the season. Tests showed a fracture in the ankle, as well as ligament damage in the lower leg. He ends the season with 127-530-3 (4.17 ypc) and 10-74-10. He finishes his career 13th on Tennessee’s all-time rushing leader list with 1,893 yards.

The former blue chip recruited had finally earned the sole feature role as a senior. He started every game this season after waiting three years, during which time he contemplated transferring, and had been establishing himself as one of the top senior prospects with prototype size for a feature role at the next level. Riggs never reached the high level of expectations, but never fully had the opportunity, until this year. He was solid, but not spectacular, in his six games in 2005. He’ll have about four months to heal before the Combine, but likely will miss the chance to showcase himself at an all-star game and will have a lot to prove in workouts, particularly that he hasn’t lost any of his average speed. He has the size to be a feature back in the NFL, but lacks breakaway speed, making him a borderline Day One selection before the injury.

Leon Washington, FSU (4SR) – posted a quiet 9-38-0 (4.2 ypc) and 1-16-0 in win against Syracuse on 10/1. He had his best game of the season in a big win against Wake Forest on 10/8, finishing with 87 yards on 11 carries (7.9 ypc) and 4 catches for 92 yards and a TD. He suffered a hip pointer in the first half of the team’s disappointing first loss at Virginia on 10/15, limiting him to 8-26-0 rushing, but he did catch a season-high 5 passes for 36 yards. He remained limited the following week, getting just 6 carries for 21 yards and missing a good chance to pad his stats in a blowout win at Duke. Bounced back, relatively, with 10-41-1 in a win at Maryland on 10/29, but he left with a sprained ankle. The ankle kept him out of his final game at Doak Campbell Stadium on 11/5 in a loss to North Carolina State.

Washington has been splitting carries equally with 3JR Lorenzo Booker (69 to Booker’s 71, prior to the 11/5 game that Washington sat out), who has been outperforming him. HC Bobby Bowden has said Washington came into the season overweight and it is why he has struggled, and why Bowden has limited his touches. As he appeared to be getting into shape, injury problems kicked in. Together, they have ruined what should have been a showcase season for a runner whose versatility, speed, and quickness had him one of the top senior prospects heading into the year. It also brings into question his motivation. It is hard to understand Washington not being in top shape for his team, much less for personal reasons. He has blown a major part of a job interview with a potential multi-million dollar salary involved. He will need a tremendous showing in the Combine and workouts to regain his draft value.

Wali Lundy, Virginia (4SR) – his disappointing last season continued in a loss at Maryland on 10/1. Still hampered by a foot sprain in that happened in their season opener, he only saw 5 carries and totaled just 18 yards. He continued to share carries, primarily with new starter 4JR Michael Johnson, the next couple of games and was ineffective with 10 carries at 3.8 ypc at BC and 9 carries at 2.6 ypc in an upset of FSU. He did catch 3 passes for 21 yards, including a TD, against the Gators. With Johnson turning an ankle at North Carolina, Lundy got his largest workload of the year. He had 18 carries for 60 yards, still a disappointing 3.3 ypc in a 7-5 loss, a huge let down after the big win over FSU. Against Temple on 11/5, Johnson was out and 2FR Cedric Peerman was injured in the game, so Lundy finally got the opportunity to be featured. Facing perhaps the worst D-IA program, Lundy posted his first 100-yard game and rushing TD of the season. He finished with 19-113-4, scoring 4 rushing TDs in one game for the first time in his career.

Coming into the season, Lundy was fifth in career rushing yards among active D-IA players. He and DonTrell Moore were the only two players in the country with three seasons of 800+ rushing yards. His 10 100-yard games were the most by any active player in the ACC. He had scored 22 TDs in his last 14 games and his 41 TDs were third among active college players. He was 3 rushing TDs short of the modern Virginia record, held by Thomas Jones. It seem more likely he would break it in one game, than it would take him eight games to break it (although, both actually happened). In other words, the season has been a tremendous disappointment and was a huge blow to the draft value of a guy who was one of the most productive backs in the country, had displayed an excellent nose for the end zone, and who I thought was one of the top five senior RB prospects coming into the season. Lacking ideal size and speed, I don’t see the Combine or in workouts stopping his freefall, so he really needed a huge senior season on his resume to keep him an intriguing prospect. This looks like Walter Reyes all over again.

Cedric Humes, Virginia Tech (5SR) – continued rotating series with 4SR Mike Imoh at WVU on 10/1, but was slightly more effective, finishing with 22-79-1 (3.6 ypc). Imoh had been playing on a tender ankle for a couple weeks, so when he was set to sit out the game against Marshall on 10/8, it looked like a big opportunity for Humes. He capitalized on it early, rushing for 58 yards and a TD on 10 carries, but broke his right arm in the second quarter. 2FR Branden Ore came in and finished with 146 yards and a TD. For the second time in his collegiate career, a broken bone cost Humes a big opportunity. He broke his leg in spring practice before the 2004 season, when it looked like he was the heir apparent to the legacy Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones had left at RB at VaTech. He didn’t miss a game, but he wasn’t right until the end of the season, and Imoh had integrated himself into the picture by then. Humes had surgery to install a plate and six screws in the arm and the original prognosis was he’d miss 4-6 weeks. The team had a bye on 10/15 and Humes sat out a big win at Maryland on 10/20, where Imoh was very effective. Then, less that three weeks after breaking his arm, with a brace specially designed by the VaTech School of Engineering, Humes returned and started against BC on 10/27. He split carries with Imoh and rushed 13 times for just 40 yards (3.1 ypc), but the team won and he demonstrated some remarkable resiliency. A huge match-up with Miami followed on 11/5. However, the game quickly went south for the Hokies, with both he and Mike Imoh equally ineffective early. The team was soon in a deep hole and abandoned the running game. Humes ended up with his worst game of the season, 20 yards on 7 carries (2.9 ypc). Ore was the most effective runner, posting 35 yards on 4 carries.

Humes has outstanding size with decent speed and hands. He looks the part of a feature back and will read like one in scouting reports, but he has never been healthy at the right time or deserved enough carries to demonstrate it. I think he is a guy who could have a big all-star game, and then impress at the Combine and in workouts, so he could be a late riser, but his value based on his injury and lackluster performance this season have taken a hit.

Selvin Young, Texas (4SR) – a sprained ankle that occurred in their season opener plagued Young through their bye on 9/24. He returned at Missouri on 10/1 and was effective, rushing for 65 yards on 11 carries (5.9 ypc), but he returned to a crowded RBBC in the Longhorn backfield. True freshmen Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton exploded on the scene in his absence, as well as 2SO Ramonce Taylor continuing to be an effective all-purpose runner. Charles, in particular, had demonstrated he was ready to be a feature back, and got the start at Missouri. The following week in a demolition of Oklahoma at the Red River Shootout on 10/8, Charles got the start again, but left in the third quarter with an ankle injury, after an incredible 9-116-1 (12.9 ypc) performance. Young replaced him and was solid again with 11-45-1 (4.1 ypc). With Charles hurting, Young got the start the following week against Colorado and saw most of the work, posting a lackluster 19-43-1 (ypc). Charles only saw one series on his gimpy ankle. Young remained the starter again against Texas Tech on 10/22 and looked better, rushing for 77 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries (4.8 ypc). Charles and Young were set to rotate at Oklahoma State on 10/29, but both ended up injured in the game. Young left after 6 carries for just 4 yards with cramps and the team behind 28-9 at half. Taylor contributed significantly in their place, helping them come from behind for a 47-28 victory and preserve their perfect season. Taylor was rewarded with the start in a blowout win at Baylor on 11/5. Despite being banged up, Charles played and posted 13-72-2. Young dressed for the game, but did not play. He remains questionable for the 11/12 game against Kansas.

Despite Young’s potential and appealing measurables, he has fumble problems, is injury-prone, and has never shown he can carry the workload of a feature back, three issues that will hurt his draft value. At this point, he is in a free fall. He could bounce back a bit with a string of impressive play in post-season and great workouts, but the injury problems will give him the “soft” label that will still make GMs nervous about pulling the trigger on him too early.

Damien Rhodes, Syracuse (4SR) – heading into FSU on 10/1, he was averaging 120 yards per game, good for 10th in the nation. Then Rhodes ran into a Seminole defense that gave him nowhere to run. Finished with a season-low 44 yards on 15 carries, but led the team in receiving with 4 receptions for 70 yards in the loss. Averaged 20 carries and 75 yards for the next three games, losses at UConn, against Rutgers, and at Pitt. On 10/29 against Cincinnati, he posted just 51 yards on 21 carries (2.4 ypc), but ran for 2 TDs and had over 100 yards receiving, as the team dropped their sixth straight game.

Rhodes is averaging 4.0 ypc, but his stats are skewed by his one huge day against a poor Buffalo team. He has averaged less than 3.2 ypc in his other games. He is a good physical specimen, but he just hasn’t shown the skills or instincts of being a special back, now that he’s had the opportunity. He wasn’t ranked very highly coming into the season, so he doesn’t have far to fall, and he is stuck on a struggling team, but he hasn’t made a case for himself to be drafted, either.

De’Arrius Howard, Arkansas (5SR) – after getting off to a great start finally give the opportunity to start, he struggled in a destruction of the Razorbacks at USC on 9/17, while true freshmen Felix Jones and Darren McFadden broke out, and he hasn’t see more than 5 carries in any game since. Completely overshadowed by the two rookies killed the chance he needed to show he could be a feature back, as he has shared work with more talented players his entire collegiate career. While he has good measurables, he has fallen off draft boards, and anything other than a very late flyer pick or UDFA route to the NFL is very unlikely.

Patrick Cobbs, North Texas (5SR) – the dynamic duo that 2003 NCAA D-IA rushing champion Cobbs and 2004 NCAA D-IA rushing champion 2SO Jamario Thomas were supposed to be has not materialized, while both seemed to have regressed having to split time and with the overall decline of the team as no longer a Sun Belt powerhouse. Cobbs has rushed for 100 yards in five of eight games, but is a long way from the exciting force he was in the 2003 season. Overall, he has 731 yards on 140 carries (5.2 ypc) with 4 TDs. Already undersized and playing against mid-major competition, he is likely off draft boards at this point and looking at the UDFA route, although he does have potential as a return man.

P.J. Pope, Bowling Green (4SR) – after back-to-back 1,000 yard, All-MAC seasons, as well as playing with rising QB prospect Omar Jacobs, I thought Pope was worth following at the beginning of the season, despite lacking size and speed. However, he went down in the season opener at Wisconsin with two sprained ankles and hasn’t been effective all season, with a brutal 3.2 ypc. Pope has been surpassed by 5SR B.J. Lane, his long-time back up and an equally uninspiring NFL prospect. If he ever was on any draft board, he’s been scratched off.

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. After missing two games due to injury, he has been passed by fellow 5SR Kevin McKenzie, a former Tulsa transfer. Shaw has rushed for 149-670-5 (4.2 ypc) in 8 games, while McKenzie has 169-885-7 (5.0 ypc) in 10 games. Regardless of his decent success this year, it’s at a much lower level and he’s never shown he can carry the load at the D-IA level, plus he comes with a lot of baggage. That all but eliminates his chances of being anything more than a very late flyer pick or UDFA.

Top Underclassmen Eligible for Draft

The potential talent in the 2006 draft class looks significantly better among the underclassmen, even at the top. 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 could 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. LenDale White, Maurice Drew, Michael Bush, and Brian Calhoun all are looking very good and worthy of considering before most of the senior prospects, at least until the Combine and workouts shake some things out.

Reggie Bush, USC (3JR) – after being down by 18 at halftime at Arizona State on 10/1, his 24-yard TD run in the third quarter brought the Trojans within 4. Then a 34-yard TD run in the fourth quarter got the Trojans back the lead, after the defense surrendered it the first time they got it in the fourth, and became the game-winning TD. He finished with 17-158-2 (9.3 ypc) and 1-4-0. Against Arizona the following week, USC got a scare when he had to leave the game with a knee injury, posting 14-110-0 before leaving. An MRI revealed it was only a bruise, so he was back 10/15 at Notre Dame. He rushed for 160 yards on 15 carries (10.7 ypc) and 3 TDs, including one on a 45-yard run, as well as giving the infamous push to QB Matt Leinart on the controversial game-winning TD to preserve the team’s perfect record. After suffering a hip pointer during practice the following week, he saw less work at Washington on 10/22. Bush broke a streak of five 100-yard games with a season lows of 8 carries and 51 yards, but did his damage on special teams, amassing 130 return yards and a TD. After 97 yards against Washington State on 10/29, he got back over the century mark against Stanford, with 12-113-1, including breaking a 42-yard run.

Bush sports a ridiculous 8.31 ypc average rushing and is the second leading all-purpose runner in the country, behind DeAngelo Williams, accounting for 193.22 yards per game. There isn’t much need to expound on his accomplishments. If he declares, and it would be a shock if he doesn’t, barring an injury, the question isn’t whether he will be the first back taken, but whether he will be the first player taken overall in the draft.

Laurence Maroney, Minnesota (3JR) – great start to season ran into a buzz saw at PSU on 10/1 against a Nittany Lion team that was improving geometrically week-to-week. Maroney was held to a season-low 48 yards on 16 carries (3.0 ypc). He bounced back at Michigan, contributing 36-129-1 in a stunning win as the Gophers reclaimed the Little Brown Jug. A crushing loss against Wisconsin overshadowed perhaps Maroney’s best career game. He had a career-high 258 yards, his third 200-yard day on the season, on a career-high 43 carries (6.0 ypc) featuring a 93-yard TD run. Also, he had a 14-yard TD run called back for holding and recovered the onside kick that should have sealed the victory. In the game, Maroney also went over 1,000 yards for the season, joining the illustrious company of MSU’s Sedrick Irvin and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the third back in Big 10 history to run for 1,000 yards in each of their first three seasons. Against OSU on 10/29, Maroney rushed for 25-127-1, and could have had more, but the game turned into a shootout. A sore right ankle bothered Maroney against Indiana, so 2SO Gary Russell did the heavy lifting. Maroney had 85 yards and a TD on a season-low 15 carries. While the touches aren’t split as evenly as Maroney did with Marion Barber III, Russell has continued to see his workload increase and has seen a lot of goal line work. He has 15 TDs to Maroney’s 10, including 7 multi-TD games. Maroney is currently third in the nation in rushing, with 152 yards per game.

Maroney’s stock is as high as it has ever been and he looked to have put on some weight coming into the season, without losing any quickness or speed. He has little incentive to return next year, and while it is unlikely he’ll be the first back taken overall if Reggie Bush declares, he should be a first round pick. The recent success of Barber, when given the opportunity this year, should strengthen the perception of him, as Maroney was recognized as the superior back when the two played together.

LenDale White, USC (3JR) – down by 18 at halftime at ASU on 10/1, White started the rally with a 32-yard TD run on the opening drive of the second half, capping an 80-yard drive. Then he put the game away with a 46-yard TD run late in fourth quarter after an interception. He finished with 19-197-2 (10.4 ypc) and for the first time in the season, wasn’t overshadowed by 3JR Reggie Bush and QB Matt Leinart. That continued the next week against Arizona. Bush left with a sprained knee and White did the heavy lifting, finishing with a career-high 4 TDs and 179 yards on 24 carries (7.5 ypc). He disappeared the following couple of weeks, posting just 10-26-1 at ND in a game where Bush stole the show and just 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 ypc) at Washington, but he did have a season-high 31 receiving yards on 2 catches. Despite battling a thigh injury, White got back over the century mark against WSU on 10/29, rushing for 20-155-2 (7.8 ypc). Another solid, but unspectacular, 13-60-1 effort followed against Stanford on 11/5, where he also had his first receiving TD of the season on a 16-yard pass. For the season, White has 17 more carries than Bush, but has averaged almost 2 ypc less.

While the thunder and lightning analogy applies, White has quickness to get the corner and speed to breakaway. White is a tremendous talent with ideal size who, like many other stars in La-La Land, is overshadowed by brighter stars. It’s not unrealistic that he could grade out as a first round player and there’s a slim chance, if both declare, we see a repeat of last year with two first round RBs from the same team.

Maurice Drew, UCLA (3JR) – the Bruins and Drew continue to live in the shadow of the Trojans and their stars, despite a remarkable season. He had a tough day running kicking off the PAC-10 season against Washington on 10/1, finishing with just 33 yards on 14 carries (2.4 ypc), although he contributed a rushing TD and caught 5 passes for 43 yards. The following week, he had perhaps his best all-around game of his career in a huge win against then-ranked #10 California. He had 3 TDs on 15 carries for 65 yards (4.3 ypc) and caught 2 passes for 52 yards, including a game-winning 28-yard TD catch. He also had 162 yards in punt returns, including an 81-yard TD. He accounted for an amazing 299 all-purpose yards, tied his own UCLA single-game TD record, and in leading the team to victory over the Bears, their first regular season loss in 13 games, proved UCLA was for real. The next two weeks he did it on the ground and through the air, with 29-109-1 and 3-78-1 at Washington State and 21-120-0 and 3-67-2 against Oregon State. At Stanford on 10/29, he 82 yards on 18 carries, including 2 late TD runs to help the team comeback, as well as having a season-high 6 catches for 87 yards. He also became the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards, passing Gaston Green on a 10-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. UCLA won in OT with yet another fantastic finish to go 8-0, while Drew had scored a TD in eight-straight games. Unfortunately, Drew suffered a knee injury in the game and it affected him the following week in a shocking upset at Arizona. Drew managed just 41 yards on the ground and 25 in the air as his dark horse Heisman hopes took a crushing blow. Another MRI is scheduled to make sure the knee wasn’t damaged any worse in the game, as the MRI after the Stanford game showed just bruising.

If it weren’t for Reggie Bush, everyone would be talking about Drew being the most electrifying all-purpose talent in the country. In addition to his skills running and receiving at RB, he has already has returned 3 punts for TDs this season, setting a PAC-10 record, and had another 65-yard return against Washington called back on a penalty. He hasn’t been returning kicks this year, but he has 2 kick returns for a TD in his career, as well. Overall, Drew has scored on a play of 40 yards or more 16 times in his career. His lack of recognition in the media won’t effect how scouts view the dynamic player. He is a bit short, but solidly built. He’ll be a Day One pick if he declares, but how early could depend on where his measurables come out and how he does in workouts.

Michael Bush, Louisville (3JR) – ran for a career-high 204 yards on just 18 carries (11.3 ypc) against South Florida on 10/1, as well as scoring 3 TDs. Against UNC on 10/8, he had just 57 yards rushing on 20 carries (2.9 ypc), but scored 2 TDs rushing and added another on a reception. The following week at WVU he had career bests in carries (37) and TDs (4) with 159 yards rushing in a disappointing triple-OT loss. Rolled for 17-127-3 (7.5 ypc) at Cincinnati and 16-115-2 against Pitt, where he also had a career-high 59 yards receiving on 4 catches. However, he left the Pitt game with a sprained left foot and was still on crutches, a game-time decision for the short-week game at Rutgers on 11/11.

Bush has had a multi-TD game every game this season, and is tied with Wisconsin’s Brian Calhoun for the most rushing TDs in the country with 20. The former stud prep QB is a supersized back in the Greg Jones and Brandon Jacobs mode, but with more athleticism and very good hands. He’ll be a tremendously intriguing prospect if he declares early.

Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin (4JR) – with only one month of the season complete, Calhoun had already had an incredible 770 all-purpose yards, accounting for almost 50 percent of Wisconsin’s total offense. An easy win against Indiana on 10/1 allowed him to put up 26-101-1 on autopilot. In a tremendously entertaining game, but tremendously disappointing loss, at Northwestern the following week, Calhoun added found new ways to impress. He became the first Badger with more than 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game, posting 23-122-1 (5.3 ypc) on the ground and 11-128-0 through the air. He was a huge part of a huge comeback the following week, with his third multi-TD game of the season. He finished with 23-115-3 at Minnesota. He couldn’t find much running room against Purdue on 10/22, rushing for just 62 yards on 20 carries (3.1 ypc), ending his streak of 5 100-yard rushing games and his only game of the season without a rushing TD, but did his damage as a receiver, grabbing 5 passes for 78 yards and 2 TDs. Facing the doormat of the Big 10 at Illinois the next week allowed him to pad his stats further with his amazing second five-TD performance of the season, including one from 46 yards out. He also had 35 carries for 197 yards and caught 2 passes for 37 yards. He finally ran into a wall at Happy Valley against a tough PSU squad. Calhoun had a season-low 38 yards on 20 carries (1.9 ypc), but ran for a TD and caught 6 passes for 48 yards. The game dropped Calhoun down to fourth in the country in rushing, with 125.60 yards per game. He’s also sixth in all-purpose yards at 174.30 per game.

Although Badgers running game has been plug-and-produce under Barry Alvarez, Calhoun’s debut has been extremely impressive. He is the Marshall Faulk (circa turn of the century) of college football this year, and this is despite the fact he plays for a coach who historically doesn’t utilize his RBs in the passing game. So you can imagine the type of player he must be for Barry Alvarez to go against his nature in his last season after all his success. He is a bit undersized for a feature back, so he is demonstrating some incredible durability for as much as they use him, which only helps his draft value. I haven’t seen anything about his intentions after this season, but with this incredible year and Barry Alvarez’s departure, it is easy to see him declaring and shaking up the rankings quiet a bit.

Lorenzo Booker, FSU (4JR) – outperformed 4SR Leon Washington in a win at Syracuse on 10/1. Took a swing pass for a highlight-reel 71-yard TD, which he predicted he’d score on in the huddle before the play. He finished with 5-35-0 (7.0 ypc) and 3-78-1. The following week he had a season-high 94 yards on 11 carries (8.5 ypc) in a win against Wake Forest. At Virginia on 10/15, he 69 yards on just 7 carries, most of it on a 58-yard TD run. He suffered a collarbone injury in the game and it may have contributed to his dismal 8 yards on 10 carries at Duke the following week, although he did run in a TD and caught 6 passes for 30 yards. He bounced back with 14-60-0 against Maryland before putting up another extremely disappointing day in a loss to NC State, finishing with 15 yards on 12 carries. He failed to take advantage of Washington being out that game. He had split carries almost evenly with Washington prior to moving a head after the NC State game with Washington out. He has been slightly more productive, but not spectacular. Considered the top tailback prospect coming out of high school, Booker hasn’t had the opportunity to carry the load. He’s flashed some great potential, but it would probably be a bad idea for him to declare at this point. His draft value should be tremendously helped by coming back next year and getting more exposure as the feature back.

Thomas Clayton, KSU (4JR) – his minor legal incident that resulted in him not playing against North Texas opened the door for 2FR Parrish Fisher and was the catalyst turning Clayton’s season completely around. After leading the nation in rushing after two games, he returned from his benching on 10/1 at Oklahoma. The running game was helpless against the Sooners and falling behind 26-0 quickly forced KSU to the air for most of the second half. Clayton finished with 8 yards on 12 carries. He regained his starting role against Kansas on 10/8 and posted an abysmal 13 yards on 16 carries. His struggles continued at Texas Tech (14-32-0) and against Texas A&M (12-47-0), as the holes weren’t there and the running game continued to be non-existent. Fisher has been equally useless, so it was 2FR QB Allan Evridge doing most of the running, usually for his life. Another slow start against Colorado on 10/29 for Clayton and Fisher resulted in forgotten 5SR Carlos Alsup getting a chance. Alsup was inserted in the second quarter because, according to HC Bill Snyder, Clayton and Fisher had “made some mistakes”. Alsup finished with 42 yards on 8 carries, while Clayton posted 8-21-1. Alsup got the start in the loss at Iowa State, their fourth straight, and played the whole game, this time not doing much better. Alsup finished with 8 yards on 9 carries, 5SR FB Victor Mann who led the team in rushing with 21 yards on 6 carries. Clayton’s season appears to have bottomed out, as he didn’t get a touch in the game. Having found no success with three different players, clearly there are deficiencies on the offensive line and in the running game plan. Regardless, the likelihood of Clayton declaring early should be all but eliminated, as he now has to prove his first two games weren’t a fluke.

Tyrone Moss, Miami (3JR) – his season ended with a torn ACL in his left knee during the second quarter in a huge win at VaTech on 11/5. He finishes the season, his first as a feature back, with career bests across the board: 137-701-12.

Moss joins the unfortunate recent trend of Cane Stud RBs tearing an ACL, as it happened to Frank Gore twice and Willis McGahee once. He also faces the challenge, if he returns, of a promising young prospect ready to make a name for himself. In this case, 2SO Charlie Jones, who didn’t miss a beat as his replacement in the game, finishing with 24-97-1. However, it is almost certain Moss returns, and his mother was quoted as saying he would in the Miami Herald. While he had a solid year and flashed some potential, it was hardly spectacular and he didn’t have the aura of seeming like he’ll be an elite back at the next level. Also, there looks to be a talented crowd of underclassmen on their way out this year, so the decision to leave would have challenging even if he finished the year healthy.