It’s never too soon to start thinking about the next group
of future NFL stars. Here’s an early look at running back,
classifying the top senior prospects and then talking about some
of the underclassmen likely to consider declaring early.
Blue Chips | Best
Achievement, Questionable Potential | Best Potential,
Looking To Rebound | The Backups
| Small School | Underclassmen
Key: Name (School
- Class) Height Weight
I usually lead off my RB review with the senior cream of the crop
heading into this college season. They would combine both NFL
measurables and significant collegiate success that have them
on the path to being the top RBs selected in the 2008 draft. However
this year, there are none in the senior class. I have enough questions
about every RB in this senior class to not see one as a first
round lock. The underclassmen, which we’ll review later,
are a different story. Depending on who declares, we could see
a number of underclassmen off the board before the first senior
RB is chosen.
Best Achievement, Questionable
This group includes those who lack ideal measurables: too small
and/or too slow, by the perceived NFL standard. Despite their
tremendous collegiate success, many teams may see them as limited
to situational roles, lowering their draft value.
Hart (Michigan – 4SR) 5’9” 193
The 2004 Freshman All-American rebounded well last season after
an injury-plagued 2005. He missed four games in 2005 due to hamstring
and ankle problems, as well as only being able to finish five
of the eight games he played in. Healthy again in 2006, Hart helped
lead Michigan to the brink of a chance to play for the National
Championship against their arch-rival. While they ultimately lost
to the Buckeyes, it wasn't for lack of anything Hart did. Never
a player to shrink in the spotlight, Hart was at the top of his
game as he rushed for 142 yards on 23 carries (6.2 ypc) and three
TDs at Ohio State. He sat out this spring recovering from minor
surgery to clean up his left shoulder. Hart is expected to be
ready for the season.
While a bit smaller than ideal for a feature back at the next
level, Hart runs with good power and can carry the load. He is
a workhorse who can handle 30 carries a game, if needed. He did
so four times in 2006 and was over 90 rushing yards in every regular
season game last year. The team is 20-3 in Hart's career when
he carries the ball at least 20 times. Hart lacks breakaway speed
(he has just three runs over 35 yards in his career) and won't
break your ankles with his moves, but he is a patient runner who
allows his blocks to be set up, then has good burst through the
hole and finishes strong. He is an ideal fit for a one-cut zone
blocking scheme. Hart not only had a strong desire to return for
his senior year, but was a leader in recruiting others to do so.
With fellow key offensive players LT Jake Long and QB Chad Henne
both returning, Hart is well-placed for individual and team accolades
that will help his draft value. The absence of top backup Kevin
Grady, who tore his ACL in April, guarantees Hart won’t
see any less of a workload this season. Despite all those things
lining him up to produce tremendous numbers, I expect he'll ultimately
be hurt when it comes time for measurements and testing at the
Combine and their Pro Day.
Forsett (California – 4SR) 5’8” 180
Stuck behind J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch in one of the most
talented backfields in the country his first three years, Forsett
could have started on many teams sooner. Instead, he has thrived
as a backup and demonstrated his ability to be a feature back
in limited opportunities to carry the load when Lynch was out
with injuries. Despite being second on the depth chart, he has
run for over 600 yards each of the last two seasons, including
falling one yard short of 1K in 2005. The 6.39 career ypc he enters
this season with is the highest for any D-I FBS RB with over 250
career carries. His work in the final scrimmage was limited as
a precaution, but he is healthy and at the top of the depth chart
when the season begins.
With the Bears’ explosive offense returning eight starters,
including three linemen, QB Nate Longshore, and playmaking WR
DeSean Jackson, Forsett is well placed to have an extremely productive
season and further his draft value. While offensive guru HC Jeff
Tedford is confident Forsett can carry the load, 2FR James Montgomery
will be worked in as Forsett was with Lynch the last two years.
Forsett is undersized and while his rushing average is indicative
of his ability to get to the second level, he isn’t truly
a home run hitter. His longest run last year was 48 yards. His
strength as a runner is his quickness and agility, able to stop
on a dime and cut like a poor man’s Barry Sanders. As a
backup most of his career, he adds value with significant experience
on special teams. Although he has not worked as the primary returner,
he also has worked as one on kickoffs. Forsett was a bit difficult
to classify because as never being a starter, he doesn’t
have the single-season stats of some others in this category.
However, if he remains healthy, the production will come in Tedford’s
offense. The bigger concern is his measurables.
Savage (Oklahoma State – 4SR) 5’9” 190
The Cowboys began the season with Mike Hamilton as their starting
RB. Hamilton appeared to be the next great OSU back coming off
being named 2005 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as a freshman. When
Hamilton went down with a knee injury, JUCO transfer Savage took
over and burst on the scene. He went over 100 yards when he was
featured in five of their last seven games, including as Offensive
MVP in their Independence Bowl victory. Hamilton has since transferred,
but 2SO Keith Toston will dip in to Savage’s carries. Toston
also leapfrogged Hamilton last year and was almost as productive
as Savage on 20 less carries.
Savage has breakaway speed and is a home run hitter. Two runs
over 50 yards contributed to his 6.5 ypc last year, while he rushed
for 72 yards on just 8 carries (9.0 ypc) in helping the White
to a victory in their spring game. However, he doesn’t appear
to have the size to be a workhorse back and the success of Toston
as a true freshman will help limit Savage’s carries. While
Savage hasn’t been used in the role at OSU, he excelled
as a returner in JUCO. He is an exciting prospect, but probably
limited to a change of pace role at the next level.
Bernard (Oregon State – 5SR) 5’9” 202
Bernard remains relatively overlooked despite posting back-to-back
1K seasons. Incredibly consistent, he rushed for 299-1321-13 in
2005 and 296-1307-12 in 2006. A very good receiver, he also has
80 receptions the last two years. He sat out their spring game
as a precaution.
Bernard never seriously flirted with declaring, despite being
one of the most productive backs in the country the last two years.
He is a bit undersized for a feature back, but has the receiving
skills that make him an appealing change of pace back, at a minimum.
McRae (Ohio – 4SR) 5’11” 208
McRae moved in on the starting role as a true freshman in 2004
before back-to-back 1K seasons and first-team All-MAC performances
the last two years. He had just nine yards on five carries in
the spring game as he was held out of the second half as a precaution.
McRae is the best collegiate senior RB many people haven’t
heard of. Despite the recent NFL success of MAC and other mid-major
players, McRae will face some skepticism about the level of his
competition. Ohio hasn’t played a particularly challenging
non-conference schedule, but his performance significantly dips
against non-MAC competition. He hasn’t rushed for 100+ yards
against an opponent from a major conference and his ypc is lower
against them, as well.
Charles (Colorado – 4SR) 5’8” 190
Began his Buffalo career in the tumultuous 2004 season when scandals,
instead of victories, got the football headlines. Charles took
over as the starter in 2005 and remained the feature back in 2006.
His numbers dipped a bit last season (139-779-1) as mobile QB
Bernard Jackson became the leading rusher. He has been healthy
and featured all spring.
Charles is undersized and has never carried the load in college,
so won’t at the next level. He has home run speed, but little
experience as a returner and is a marginal receiver, so he has
work to add value as a change of pace back. With a run-first QB
in Jackson (who may be a better NFL prospect at RB), Charles is
unlikely to develop much more as a receiver this season. However,
he has seen significant work returning kick-offs this spring with
Alridge (Houston – 5SR) 5’9” 175
Converted after being primarily a backup WR in 2005, Alridge was
the home run hitter in Houston’s 2006 RBBC. He had 959 yards
on just 95 carries for an incredible 10.1 ypc, the best in D-I
BCS. His average was bolstered by seven runs over 30 yards, including
two 77-yard TD runs at SMU and an 87-yard TD run against Tulane.
Although Jackie Battle is gone, Alridge appears once again likely
to be in a RBBC. Larger 2FR Randall Antoine looked like a back
capable of being a workhorse when he led the team in rushing (18-98-1)
and receiving (5-27-0) in their spring game. Alridge had 56 yards
on just 8 carries as he was limited to keep him healthy.
Alridge is undersized, but an explosive playmaker. He is an elusive
runner and danger in space. He is able to exploit defenses in
particular with this as a receiver in generating YAC. He led the
Cougars in 2005 with an outstanding 22.7 average as a receiver
on 13 catches, including three over 50 yards. In 2006, he had
14.4 ypc, impressive for working primarily out of the backfield.
He also proved to be a top kick returner when moved to that role
last season. Alridge doesn’t really fit this category as
far as achievement, but he doesn’t really belong anywhere
else and his potential is definitely limited by his size. He needs
to pack his resume more this year to be anything more than an
undrafted free agent, but his big play ability and his position
flexibility are intriguing.
Best Potential, Limited
While this group has ideal measurables and/or flashed the skills
that could make them Day One picks, unlike those looking to rebound,
their production either hasn’t been significant or consistent
enough to be considered a top prospect. Whether it's transferring,
crowded backfield situations, injuries, just one big season, or
a combination, they have to fully capitalize on their potential
this season to be an early pick.
Choice (Georgia Tech – 5SR) 6’0” 205
The Oklahoma transfer wisely packed up after Adrian Peterson arrived
in Norman and blew up as a true freshman in 2004. An unusual waiver
of residency by the NCAA (he claimed his transfer was necessitated
by a family situation) allowed him to not be required to sit out
2005 after transferring. Thanks to that, he got his feet wet in
HC Chan Gailey's offense as the back-up to P.J. Daniels that year.
Then in WR Calvin Johnson's shadow last season, Choice quietly
emerged to lead the ACC in rushing, with over 1,400 yards and
12 TDs. After easing in to the starter role, he caught fire as
they began conference play and in to the post-season. Choice went
over 100 rushing yards in a school-record nine games, including
a career-high 169 rushing yards in a near-upset of West Virginia
in the Gator Bowl.
With a new QB and four returning starters on the offensive line,
who the Yellow Jackets will feature on offense is not a choice,
it is Choice. However, he was fourth in D-I FBS with 297 carries
last season (a school record), so his durability will be put to
a test and it is hard to imagine a much better season statistically.
Improving on his 12 receptions to show he can be a complete back
would be one area. A rookie QB will likely be looking for his
dump-off option a lot early. It will also give him a chance to
show if he can handle pass blocking. He has also indicated he
hopes to show he can be a home run threat this year (his career
long is 46 yards). With good size, if he can continue to be a
workhorse and show development in those areas, he could be the
top-rated senior back coming out of the season.
Pinnix (Minnesota – 5SR) 6’0” 205
After Gary Russell’s exit last season due to academic problems,
everyone in the backfield moved up a spot and Pinnix was the biggest
beneficiary. As the feature back last season, he rushed for 10
TDs and over 1,000 yards, including three consecutive 100-yard
games at the end of the season.
He is slated to carry the load again this season, with redshirt
sophomore Jay Thomas likely to see a bigger role as the Gophers
return to using more of the two-back system they’ve successfully
employed in the recent past. Pinnix doesn’t have the size
or power of Barber, Maroney, or even Russell, but he is an elusive
one-cut runner who is a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme
new HC Tim Brewster is looking to install. The success of recent
Gopher backs in the NFL will help the perception of Pinnix if
he has another productive season, as well.
Patrick (Oklahoma – 5SR) 6’0” 191
2005 JUCO transfer was a DB recruit who converted to RB early
in his first season. However, most of his time was spent on special
teams. Last season, he stepped up when Adrian Peterson went down
and was outstanding in Peterson’s place. Patrick looked
to be in the lead to replace Peterson this year. However, 2FR
DeMarco Murray has stolen the show this spring, while 2FR Mossis
Madu and 2SO Chris Brown are in the picture, as well. Patrick’s
production this year is likely to be limited in a RBBC. However,
if he has the speed and is as good an athlete as advertised, Patrick
should help himself at the Combine and during his Pro Day.
Torain (Arizona State – 4SR) 6’0” 213
2006 JUCO transfer immediately solidified a backfield that had
not had a 1K rusher since 2001. His 1,229 rushing yards were the
most by a Sun Devil since 1975. Torain picked up where he left
off last season in the spring game. He led all rushers with 68
yards on just 9 carries and two scores, all in the first half.
While he caught only 18 passes last season, it was good for third
on the team. He runs good routes and has excellent hands. Torain
is overlooked nationally playing in the PAC-10 and for an ASU
program that hasn’t had a noteworthy rusher in years. However,
he is on the radar now and brings legit NFL measurables. While
he needs to learn a new offense under new HC Dennis Erickson,
his position is locked in and the offense is in good shape returning
ten starters, including the entire offensive line. Similar production
this fall and will be climbing up draft boards by the end of the
Hillis (Arkansas – 4SR) 6’1” 243
His breakout true freshman season in 2004 as both a fullback and
running back was interrupted by a serious lower back injury. He
suffered fractures of the transverse processes in three vertebrates
(Keith Brooking and Dante Culpepper are a couple notable NFL players
who resumed their careers after the same injury). He was expected
to miss several weeks, possibly the season, but showed some outstanding
toughness in returning just three weeks later. With the addition
of blue chip prospects 3JR Darren McFadden and 3JR Felix Jones
in 2005, Hillis’ rushing duties took a back seat. However,
Hillis stepped up his game in other areas, leading the team in
receptions (38) and taking over as their primary punt returner,
while developing as a blocker playing almost exclusively at fullback.
His production fell significantly last season. After talk of converting
him to LB, new OC Gus Malzahn never figured out how to properly
utilize his talents. It didn’t help that Hillis had some
leg injuries early in the season that plagued him the whole year
and cost him a few games. This year, Malzahn is gone and Hillis
should be back in the offensive game plan more. He led the team
in receiving in the spring game.
Hillis is a true multi-purpose threat who can line up at any
skill position, as well as being a productive returner. Fullback
or H-Back seems his likely NFL calling. While comparisons to Mike
Alstott and Brian Leonard seem obvious, his strengths and weaknesses
differ significantly. He lacks the speed of either, but unlike
both, Hillis is an outstanding blocker. Like both, Hillis is an
outstanding receiver for a big man, but like Leonard, he can do
it running routes and not just out of the backfield. Hillis has
Alstott’s size, bigger than Leonard, but isn’t the
short-yardage hammer as a runner that Alstott was. Durability
has been a bit of a problem and in the best backfield in the nation
he isn’t going to produce much as a runner, but he size
and variety of talents make him an intriguing prospect.
Boyd (South Carolina – 4SR) 6’1” 214
After two seasons backing up Demetris Summers, Boyd was suspended
for the 2005 season. The suspension was non-academic, the only
official statement was it was for a violation of athletic department
policies. After being part of a group that frequently missed off-season
workouts and meetings under former HC Lou Holtz, Boyd was one
of several suspensions by HC Steve Spurrier to clean house. Boyd
got on board with the program, returning with his best season
in 2006. Splitting carries with 3JR Mike Davis, Boyd led the team
in rushing and touchdowns. Boyd also was third on his team and
led SEC RBs with 35 receptions. He picked up where he left off
in their spring game, rushing for 58 yards on 8 carries, including
both the Black team’s TDs, in victory.
Boyd is a bit under the radar after being out of sight for a
year and in a RBBC last year, but he is an exciting prospect with
ideal size and usefulness in the passing game to be a feature
back. He runs a little high, but squares his shoulders to deliver
the blow to defenders at the end of a run. His balance and cut-back
ability are very good, as well. However, he still carries the
stigma of his questionable work ethic. Another productive season
under Spurrier will go a long way to proving it was just youthful
indiscretions and that Boyd’s maturity has caught up to
Markey (UCLA – 4SR) 5’11” 204
Living in the shadow of Maurice Jones-Drew his first two years,
Markey’s breakout came in their Sun Bowl victory following
the 2005 season. After an injury to Jones-Drew, Markey came off
the bench to rush for 161 yards on 24 carries. The co-MVP of the
game had a 51-yard run to set up a game-tying score against Northwestern
after the Bruins went down 22-0 in the first quarter. After Jones-Drew
left, Markey took over the reigns in 2006 and drove the offense
as their feature weapon. He led the team in rushing (227-1,163-2)
and receiving (35 receptions) last season. Markey suffered a stress
fracture in his right foot in spring practice after coming down
awkwardly after a reception. He missed the spring game, but is
expected to be fine by the start of camp.
Markey is a textbook example of a star-in-waiting who emerges
after the departure to the NFL of the player in front of him.
He is decent size and outstanding game speed, a breakaway threat
who had at least one run over 50 yards each of his three seasons.
His productivity wasn’t impacted with the increased work
last year, as he kept his ypc right around a 5.0 average. While
he was relieved of kick return duties as the feature runner last
year, he was an excellent returner his first two years. He has
never been used much as a punt returner, but has a 41-yarder among
his five career returns. I expect Markey’s draft stock to
climb quickly this season in a senior class that lacks stars at
Caulcrick (Michigan State – 5SR) 6’0” 258
Originally recruited as a RB, he was converted to LB and played
there on the scout team during his redshirt season in 2003. He
returned to RB in spring 2004 and has been the power running option
in their backfield since. The last two years he has combined with
3JR Javon Ringer to form a thunder and lightning combination.
Last year Ringer missed several games and was limited in a few
others by a knee sprain. Without a home run threat in the backfield
and with the passing game struggling at times, teams loaded up
to stop the power running game. Caulcrick’s average suffered,
down a yard and a half over his career ypc. His productivity has
dropped each year since his breakout 2004 season. This spring,
Caulcrick saw just seven carries for ten yards in their spring
game. His action was limited as a precaution. Ringer, who had
reportedly has had an excellent spring, was also limited to ten
carries, but turned them in to 60 yards.
As the complimentary back most of his career, Caulcrick has never
had more than 113 carries or 619 yards in a season. He is the
latest in a series of recent super-sized runners trying to prove
they are more than candidates for conversion to FB. He follows
in the footsteps of Greg Jones, Brandon Jacobs, and Michael Bush,
but is not the same level of prospect. Caulcrick is still an intriguing
size/speed combination and that unique combination keeps him on
the draft radar.
Lumpkin (Georgia – 5SR) 6’1” 222
After being the more productive runner while splitting carries
as a true freshman in 2003, Lumpkin looked ready to take over
Georgia’s running game. A torn ACL in camp ended his 2004
season before it began. While he sat out, 4SR Thomas Brown and
Danny Ware exploded as true freshmen. In 2005, Lumpkin still struggled
with the knee and spent most of the season as RB. Last year he
regained form and a knee injury to Brown helped pave the way for
Lumpkin to the head of the RBBC. Lumpkin had twice as many carries
(162) as the next leading rusher (Ware) and led the team with
798 yards for a team-high 4.9 ypc. Lumpkin had 53 yards and a
score in their G-Day Game, but all the buzz has been about 2FR
Knowshon Moreno (11-68-2 in game) this spring.
Lumpkin has ideal size and runs with good power, but has not
recovered the unspectacular speed he had pre-injury (he’s
never had a run over 35 yards). He is stuck once again in a deep
RBBC. While Ware declared early to be an undrafted free agent,
Brown is expected to be ready for the beginning of the season
and Moreno should earn his share of work. Lumpkin is unlikely
to produce the numbers to garner more attention and unlikely to
impress in physical tests after the season.
“L.V.” Whitworth (Boston College – 5SR)
L.V. started all 25 games the last two years, but holds only a
slight advantage in carries over fellow 5SR Andre Callender. He
led the team in attempts (174) and rushing yards (837) again last
season. Whitworth has good size and adds value as a receiver.
He has been a steady, but unspectacular performer and is a marginal
NFL prospect without a stellar resume because he’s shared
the ball his whole career.
Looking to Rebound
Whether it was injuries or a down year that didn’t match
potential and/or previous achievement, the stock for this group
has dropped. However, the table is set for a comeback year in
their final season of eligibility, and they could rise quickly
up draft boards if they produce.
Little (Kentucky – 4SR) 5’10” 195
One of the top all-purpose HS runners in 2004, Little found no
takers at a better program because of his size. Knee surgery the
summer before his freshman year had him miss his the first game
and limited him early in the season. By the end of the year, he
finished as the starter and led the team in rushing despite just
posting 265 yards. He broke out in his second year, leading the
team in rushing (1,045), receiving (46 receptions), and the SEC
in punt return average (16.9) on his way to setting the school’s
single-season all-purpose yardage record (1,982). However, injury
problems returned again last year. He injured his left knee the
second game of the season, but after a MRI showed no damage. He
struggled through the next several games, missing one, as he battled
recurring swelling in the knee. He finally had arthroscopic surgery
in early October to try to properly diagnosis the problem. A tear
in the lateral cartilage was found and repaired. He missed the
next three games while the knee healed and when he returned at
the end of the season, he finally looked like himself. Little
rushed for over 100 yards in two of the final four games and was
over 100 all-purpose yards in all of them, including an 84-yard
punt return TD. Little had another procedure on the knee in the
off-season, but he was healthy enough to play in the spring game.
He rushed for 31 yards on seven carries and had a 48-yard TD reception.
Critics who doubted Little could handle the rigors of being a
feature back in the SEC were proven correct, although when healthy
he has proven that he has more than enough talent to succeed.
While not too short, he has a thin frame that seems unlikely to
be capable of carrying more weight without hampering his outstanding
agility. His draft prospects are as a change of pace back and
returner, for which he has the ideal skill set. Little is an outstanding
punt returner, and while not used much on kick-offs, he has a
99-yard TD on one of the seven he has taken. His excellent hands
extend to the receiving game, where he also excels at running
after the catch. This is quantified by his nearly 11 yards per
catch, outstanding for a RB. The value he adds receiving and as
a returner give him desirable mid-to-late round value, if his
durability holds up this year.
Young (Iowa – 5SR) 5’9” 209
Injury plagued start to his career featured a prep knee injury,
redshirting his first season in 2003 after a broken fibula in
camp, and a torn right ACL his second game of the 2004 season.
It all turned around in 2005 when went over 1,300 yards rushing
for the season and led the Big Ten (125.2 ypg) in conference play.
The second team all-conference RB had a school-record eight 100-yard
games rushing in 2005, double the previous high in Hawkeye history.
Young headed in to the 2006 season as one of the top young RBs
in the country and a possible candidate to declare early. However,
injury problems returned last year. He missed time with a leg
strain and later a knee sprain, finishing the season with just
779 yards rushing on 178 carries.
Young never had breakaway speed, his longest career run is 36
yards, but succeeded as an elusive slasher with good vision and
surprising power for his size. However, last year he struggled
to showcase those skills as he battled injuries. His ypc were
down almost a full yard and his longest run of the season, 26
yards, came in their last game after almost a month of rest. Even
if he’s fully healthy this year, he will have a hard time
producing big numbers. Home run hitting 4SR Damian Simms has progressed
well and the two should be a full-blown RBBC this fall. Both were
limited in the spring game as a precaution. Regardless of how
well Young bounces back, his draft value is limited by his durability
and measurables. He does add value as a very good receiver and
kick returner, but lacks elite speed to project as being special
as either a change of pace back or returner.
Scott (Penn State – 5SR) 5’11” 222
An afterthought in most rankings, Scott looks to salvage his draft
value as he returns after taking a redshirt last year. The Pennsylvania
native came to State College in 2003 as a record-breaking blue
chip recruit looking to take the mantle from Larry Johnson as
the next great Nittany Lion RB. Now Scott must hope to finally
emerge as a fifth-year senior the same way Johnson did. Scott
was more touted than Tony Hunt when both came in the same recruiting
class, but after Scott failed to impress as a true freshman, Hunt
began to see more work and separated himself from Scott more and
more each year. Scott rushed for a game-high 53 yards on the losing
side in their spring game behind the second-string offensive line.
Injuries have played their part in stalling Scott’s career,
as he has been hit with mononucleosis, multiple ankle problems
since breaking one in March 2005, and a left knee injury in the
spring of 2006. However, all acknowledging the role those issues
have played in preventing his development is point out the problem
durability is for him. His decision to redshirt last season also
brings to question his dedication. After a knee injury last spring
and aggravating his ankle in the summer, Scott wasn’t fully
healed until their second game. HC Joe Paterno left the decision
to Scott as to whether or not he wanted to redshirt. Scott chose
to skip the season, explaining in an interview with The Patriot-News
that, “I just saw the line needed another year…”,
or he was not confident running behind their offensive line last
year. Obviously this wasn’t a problem for Tony Hunt. Regardless,
he seems back in the good graces of Paterno and the team so far
this year, as he is competing with fellow 5SR Rodney Kinlaw to
be the feature back this season. A best case scenario is probably
the two forming a thunder (Scott) and Lightning (Kinlaw) combination.
Scott has put on almost 15 pounds (up over 220 after being under
210 last year) to prepare to take the pounding of a full Big 10
season. While I don’t remotely expect déjà
vu of Larry Johnson’s final season, Scott and his prototype
size make an intriguing prospect if he can put it together in
his final year.
Washington (Southern California – 5SR) 6’0”
He came to USC in the highly-regarded class of 2003 with Reggie
Bush and LenDale White. While the thunder and lightning combination
of White and Bush ran wild at USC for three years, Washington
was academically ineligible after seeing just a handful of carries
as a freshman. His disappointment ended in May 2006, when his
passing spring grades allow him to be eligible in fall. His return
was a mixed bag. With a 2006 recruiting class stacked with multiple
blue chip RB recruits, his place was uncertain to start the season.
True freshman C.J. Gable and Emmanuel Moody got starts in the
first six games as Washington played through hamstring and knee
problems. However, he saw significant carries and was productive
with them. Washington would break through against Arizona State.
In his first career start, he posted his first 100-yard game.
Washington would start a few more before his knee problems were
revealed as a torn MCL that finally derailed his season late in
the year. While he struggled through the end of the season, the
knee was apparently better by the time the Rose Bowl rolled around,
but he saw just two carries in the victory. He finished the season
as the leading rusher for the Trojans and considered declaring
for the draft after the disappointment of his limited use in their
last game. However, he eventually decided to return for his last
year of eligibility. Another recruiting class saw several more
blue chip recruits join the backfield and academic problems have
resurfaced. Reports are he is struggling in classes again. In
the spring game, he had a strong showing with 48 rushing yards
and two touchdown runs. Washington remains in the mix to be the
nominal starter, but USC will once again be spreading the ball
Washington took the first step last year in beginning to prove
himself against elite competition. He is still a long way from
being considered a top prospect. Durability and dedication, largely
related to his inability to retain academic eligibility, are major
question marks. It is unlikely he’ll see enough touches
to provide impressive statistical production. He is also unlikely
to show exceptional speed or athleticism at the Combine. Other
than the advantage of the exposure and credibility of the program
he plays for, Washington faces many challenges in climbing draft
boards this fall.
Hamilton (San Diego State – 5SR) 6’0” 225
One of the most highly-regarded recruits in SDSU history did not
disappoint as a true freshman in 2003, evoking memories of former
Aztec Marshall Faulk. The soon-to-be 2003 MWC Freshman of the
Year went over 1K on his third carry in the tenth game of the
season. He joined Faulk as the only other Aztec freshman in history
to run for 1,000 yards. In the fourth quarter of the same game
he would suffer a horrific broken right ankle and fibula. He missed
the final two games that year. After three surgeries and ten screws
the leg was not ready for 2004. His return in 2005 started solid,
but was unspectacular. He finally broke through in the fifth game
of the season, rushing for 161 yards and 2 scores. However, in
the next game at UNLV, injury problems would haunt him again at
Sam Boyd Stadium. Hamilton had to leave in the first quarter with
a strained hamstring and would miss the next game. The injury
would hamper him for a couple more games before he broke out to
end season, finishing with three consecutive 100-yard games. After
that, expectations were again high for him in 2006. However, he
started slow and in their third game suffered a torn meniscus
in his left knee and missed three games after surgery. He returned
to a reserve role, as 3SO Atiyyah Henderson played well in his
absence. Hamilton’s return was just a cameo, as in his second
game back, swelling in the knee began to be a problem. It was
drained twice and didn’t improve, so he missed the rest
of the season.
The same knee problem continues to be a problem this year. After
deciding with the team against another surgery due to the accumulation
of scar tissue, Hamilton will miss all of spring practice and
continue rehab on the knee and to try to keep him as healthy as
possible for his final season of eligibility. If he returns this
fall, it is unlikely to be in a feature role. Henderson, last
season’s leading rusher, and 5SR Brandon Bornes are currently
the top two backs, with some other younger players also figuring
in. HC Chuck Long has indicated at this point the thinking may
be to move Hamilton to fullback. Regardless, Hamilton’s
NFL aspirations are on life support at this time. He has missed
almost a third (10 of 36) of the games in the three seasons he
This group has the physical attributes and potential to succeed
at the next level, but don’t stand out or get as much recognition
because of a RBBC or being stuck behind a more prominent runner.
They are an injury (or two) away from huge seasons that could
shoot them up draft boards.
Polk (Oregon State – 4SR) 6’1” 214
A standout HS athlete from Arizona, Polk was a 2003 ASU recruit,
but DNQ. After a relatively quiet JUCO stint, he was in obscurity
behind Yvenson Bernard until the team met USC last fall. With
Bernard out with a sprained ankle, Polk rushed for 100 yards on
22 carries in his first D-I FBS start, contributing to a surprising
upset over USC. He pounded out 46 of those yards in 10 fourth
quarter carries to help protect the lead.
Polk basically has one game on his resume. His own ankle problems
prevented him from seeing more work after his big game, as he
missed much of the remainder of the season after USC. He won’t
see much work again this year behind Bernard. However, if Bernard
goes down, he is positioned to make a name for himself. Polk’s
playing time has previously been limited because of being a liability
in blocking, as well.
Grant (Georgia Tech – 5SR) 5’10” 200
A Freshman All-ACC selection in 2004 as the team’s second-leading
rusher, he appeared to be the successor to P.J. Daniels. However,
when Tashard Choice transferred in 2005, Grant immediately fell
to RB3 and remained behind Choice last year.
While not a burner, Grant is an elusive runner in space, which
has gotten him work as a returner. He also is a good receiver
and route runner, although his production catching doesn’t
show it. Grant has worked in as a slot receiver to try and get
him more opportunities to get the ball. After one of the biggest
workloads in D-I FBS last season for Tashard Choice, if durability
becomes a problem, Grant could finally get a chance to show his
Brown (Georgia – 4SR) 5’8” 200
After a breakout year as a true freshman in 2004 (172-875-8) in
a RBBC, he has regressed every year since. Despite starting all
12 games in 2005, his numbers were down across the board. Last
year his ypc was down a yard from his freshman average before
he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in October. A bit short but
well built, quickness and speed was the key to his game, which
becomes a concern with the knee injury. He is expected to be ready
for the beginning of the season, but it will be less than a year
of healing and he will be behind 5SR Kregg Lumpkin with 2FR Knowshon
Moreno forcing his way in the scene.
Callender (Boston College – 5SR) 5’10” 204
While not a starter, he has nearly split carries and put up similar
stats in a RBBC with 5SR L.V. Whitworth. Smaller and quicker than
Whitworth, Callender is still not a home run hitter. An injury
to Whitworth would give him an opportunity to elevate his stock
if he can produce when given the chance to have a significant
Broussard (LSU – 5SR) 6’0” 250
After emerging in 2004, leading the team in rushing and scoring,
he was slated in 2005 to be the feature runner in a crowded backfield
that included Joseph Addai. A torn right ACL in August 2005 ended
his season before it started. What should have been a big year
for Broussard ended with Addai taking over and ending up a first
round pick. It was a challenge for Broussard to recover. The knee
swelled up unusually a few weeks after his surgery and an infection
was found that required additional work, slowing the rehab. He
was not ready for spring practice last season and there were reports
he was ready to quit football over the challenging rehab. He did
return in 2006, but was about 20 pounds overweight and continued
to battle problems with his knee. He missed three games and as
part of a four-headed RBBC, never saw more than ten carries in
a game. He has been fully involved in spring practice this year
and had a good showing in the spring game, rushing for 32 yards
and a score on eight carries.
Broussard is a big back built to move the pile, but he lacked
top speed and elusiveness prior to the injury and weight problems.
He has shown flashes in the past, he holds the single-game school
rushing record after a 250 yard day against Ole Miss as sophomore
in 2004. However, his durability and motivation are major concerns.
While he can no longer be considered a feature back, but offers
some intrigue as a short yardage and goal-line specialist. With
two career receptions, he is a non-factor in the passing game.
Broussard starts the season buried on the depth chart and will
need injuries or some exceptional showings to move up. FB tweener
4SR Jacob Hester, who led the team in rushing last year, was passed
by blue chip 2SO Keiland Williams by the end of the season and
looks to lead the RBBC this year. 2SO Charles Scott, who showed
flashes between injuries last year, and 2FR Richard Murphy, coming
off a strong spring, both look to also be ahead of Broussard,
These lower division players have the talent and measurables,
but their achievement is always looked at as relative to the competition.
It is a much harder road to the NFL for sub-Division I FBS players,
but every year there are a few small school surprises. These are
the most likely candidates at RB.
Randle (Southern Illinois – 5SR) 6’0” 185
Versatile player won Honorable Mention Big 12 honors as a true
freshman at Kansas in 2003, but multiple legal problems derailed
his Jayhawk career. Randle was dismissed in March 2005 after the
latest of four arrests in a year and a half. He was second in
rushing yards to Arkee Whitlock, the school’s all-time all-purpose
yardage leader, and averaged 5.1 ypc. He was limited by a shoulder
injury this spring and did not participate in their spring game,
but appears likely to lead their RBBC this fall. Randle is a talented
athlete who is a quick runner with outstanding cut-back ability
and has very soft hands. He doesn’t have the build to be
a workhorse, but has potential as a change of pace back at the
next level. The success of recent Salukis runners, and the program,
will help keep Randle on the radar, but his baggage is likely
to keep him out of the draft even he has a breakout season in
Brittingham (Bloomsburg – 4SR) 6’0” 203
After rushing for over 2,500 yards and 30 TDs to lead Neshaminy
to the Class AAAA state championship with a 15-0 record in 2001,
the Pennsylvania HS legend was set to attend Rutgers. His grades
were not good enough to qualify in 2002, so he spent a year at
Kiski Prep. A year later, he was still academically ineligible,
and his football future seemed in doubt. He found a home at Division
II Bloomsburg in the spring of 2004. Brittingham teamed with Mike
Ceroli to give the Huskies a pair of 1K rushers that fall. As
the feature back in 2005, Brittingham looked like he was back
in HS again. He ran for 2,260 yards (188.3 ypg) and 32 TDs, breaking
multiple school and conference records, leading the Huskies to
their first undefeated regular season since 1985. The First Team
AP Little All-American took a step back in 2006. Injury problems
plagued him through the season, starting with a knee injury before
the season started. He missed three games and was limited in a
number of others. Still, he finished the season leading the team
in rushing with 213-1,003-12. His measurables are good enough
for the next level, so the only question is if his talent will
be, which is challenging to evaluate against DII competition.
Omon (Northwest Missouri State – 5SR) 5’11”
The school’s all-time leading rusher chases his fourth 1,500
rushing yard season and a first National Championship. The Bearcats
have lost to Grand Valley State in the final game the last two
years. He has a lot of wear on his tires with 899 carries in his
first three years and likely to see around 300 again this year.
His ypc has gone down a yard each season.
Washington (Eastern Kentucky – 4SR) 6’0”
A 2004 Miami recruit, Washington was not admitted over ACT scandal.
NC State took the talented recruit and injuries gave him an opportunity
to contribute immediately as a true freshman. He was passed by
talented youth in 2005, which led him to want to transfer back
to Miami. However, then-HC Chuck Amato allegedly would only release
him from scholarship if he would not transfer to another ACC school
or Florida. He transferred to the DI FCS Colonels in 2006 and
finished second in the team in rushing. Washington is intriguing
only as far as his size and being a former blue chip recruit.
He will have to make significant strides this year, as he couldn’t
even take the feature role on his own team last year.
Woodhead (Chadron State – 4SR) 5’8” 195
After rushing for over 1,700 yards as a true freshman and over
1,800 in 2005, Woodhead became the all-time all-division single
season rushing leader with 2,756 yards and won the Harlon Hill
Trophy (top DII player) last year. The Nebraska high school legend
was overlooked by big school programs because of his size and
the same is likely to happen by the NFL, but the former track
star has legitimate NFL speed.
Lewis (Georgia Southern – 4SR) 5’9” 200
Florida State transfer joined the Eagles in late spring 2006 and
was the second-leading rusher last year. He had 66 yards on 5
carries in their spring game this year, including a 6-yard TD,
and looks to be their top runner this year.
AAll have at least a year of eligibility left after the 2007 season,
but have the talent and/or situation making them the most likely
to declare early for next April’s draft.
McFadden (Arkansas – 3JR) 6’2” 205
Last year's Heisman runner-up enters the season as the favorite
to be the first RB selected in 2006. Size, speed, individual achievements,
and team success...there isn't much to question about his credentials.
However, the Razorback offense, not to mention team, faces some
challenges this year. The Hogs lose three starting linemen, including
All-SEC performers C Jonathan Luigs and LT Tony Ugoh. There has
also been plenty of drama in Fayetteville surrounding the football
program the last few months. Gus Malzahn, with no college experience
when he was hired as OC in December 2005, seemed a curious choice
for a top assistant slot. His credentials appeared to be largely
based on being part of a package deal for a handful of prized
recruits from his Springdale (Ark.) High team, especially QB Mitch
Mustain. However, Mustain struggled after becoming the starter
last season, eventually losing the job despite an 8-0 record,
and there were philosophical differences between Malzahn and HC
Houston Nutt. The result was Nutt winning an apparent power struggle
that resulted in AD Frank Broyles resigning, Malzahn leaving in
January, and Mustain asking to be released from his scholarship
a day later. Former Razorback assistant David Lee returns as OC
and while none of that directly involves McFadden, the fallout
of that mess and the additional pressure on Houston Nutt could
snowball in to a lot of negativity around the team if they struggle
early in the season. Regardless, he and teammate Felix Jones should
again be wildly productive as the top backfield combination in
the country. Reminiscent of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown,
the Hogs dynamic duo, if both declare, offers arguably the top
RB prospect and another Day One pick in Jones.
Slaton (West Virginia – 3JR) 5’10” 190
After exploding on the scene as a true freshman, the 2005 Big
East Rookie of the Year was a first team AP All-American for an
encore in 2006. He has over 3,000 rushing yards and 37 total TDs
in just two seasons. A big time home run threat, he averaged 7
ypc overall and almost 30 ypc on his 16 scores last year. This
spring, he has participated in drills, but no contact or scrimmages
as he recovers from off-season surgery on his right wrist. The
injury actually occurred in 2005 and plagued him the last third
of the season. There isn’t much more for Slaton to achieve
individually at the collegiate level. A slasher with elite speed
and good hands, he needs to add some more bulk to be a workhorse
back at the next level, but clearly has special ability.
Charles (Texas – 3JR) 6’1” 203
As a freshman in 2005, Charles ran for 878 years (7.4) ypc and
11 TDs for the BCS champion. Then he went on to win the Big 12
100m in 10.13 seconds and help UT to a third-place finish at the
NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He finished fifth
the 100-meter and took seventh place in 200-meter. Charles completed
his first collegiate track season as a four-time All-American
(60m indoor, 100m outdoor, 200m outdoor, 4x100m relay outdoor).
The demands of being a two-sport star as a freshman took a toll
come last fall. The sophomore failed to improve on his previous
season, rushing for 831 yards and catching 18 passes in spot duty.
He has given up indoor track this spring to focus on football
and put on 10 pounds this off-season (up to 203). Although Charles
didn’t participate much in their spring game after tweaking
his ankle a week earlier, he has gone through the entire spring
His focus and dedication on football make him an excellent breakout
candidate this year. While Texas should continue to spread the
ball around in the backfield, Charles should see the bulk of the
work. However, he’ll have to work behind an offensive line
that lost three stalwarts in T Justin Blalock, G Kasey Studdard,
and C Lyle Sendlein. Texas usually does a good job of selling
players on staying four years, but if Charles lives up to his
potential this season, he is a strong candidate to declare early.
Jones (Arkansas – 3JR) 5’11” 195
In the shadow of McFadden and the institutional controversy at
Arkansas last year, Felix Jones probably had the quietest 1K rushing
season in the nation. The duo had the most rushing yards of any
tandem in college football last year. A home run hitter, the yards
piled up quickly despite limited touches because of his big play
ability. Jones had three runs over 50 yards and a robust 7.6 average
on 154 carries. He has tremendous upside as an elite kick returner,
finishing second in the nation last season after being an All-American
at return specialist as a true freshman in 2005. He had a 100-yard
KO return each of his first two season. Both Jones and McFadden
were held out of contact drills and the spring game as a precaution.
Johnson (Boise State – 4JR) 5’11” 194
After redshirting in 2004, Johnson was a relatively anonymous
part of a crowded RBBC in 2005. However, he separated himself
from the pack last season and excelled as the feature runner on
his way to posting 277-1,713-25, the greatest season by a RB in
school history. The AP Third Team All-American led DI-A in scoring
and was second in rushing as a key part of the Broncos fairy tale
season that ended with striking a major blow for all mid-majors
in their defeat of Oklahoma.
Although he plays on a fast track on Boise State’s infamous
blue turf and has decent speed, Johnson’s running style
is classic mudder. He grounds out the tough yards, bouncing off
arm tackles and dragging defenders downfield despite unexceptional
size. Johnson runs with an outstanding natural forward lean complimented
with excellent balance and vision. The passing game is about the
only area he really needs to show improvement in to help his draft
stock. In the limited times he caught a pass, he catches the ball
with his body too much. Up front, the team only lost C Jadon Dailey,
so he should benefit from running behind mostly the same OLine
again this year. The surprising success of Johnson and the team
last season means he will not be overlooked this season.
“Ray” Rice (Rutgers – 3JR) 5’9”
All he has done in his first two years is push NFL second round
pick Brian Leonard out as the feature runner and rush for almost
3,000 yards, including a Big East single-season record 1,794.
Rice sat out the spring game as he had surgery to remove a loose
bone from his right ankle in April. It is expected to take 4-6
weeks for him to be back at 100%. HC Greg Schiano does not seem
concerned, indicating Rice played with the bone chip last year
and most of the spring.
After breaking out as a true freshman, Rice took his draft value
a huge step further by showing he can be a workhorse back. He
had 335 carries last year and was extremely consistent with them.
Rice rushed for over 100 yards in 10 of 13 games and only rushed
under 75 in one of those other three. Although undersized, Rice
is built well with thick upper legs. His pad level is excellent,
running and cutting at full speed with a low center of gravity.
One area that he needs development in is the passing game. Leonard,
with his reliable hands and better blocking were preferred in
passing situations, while Rice has 12 career receptions. The Second
Team AP All-American will be a Heisman candidate this fall and
should have an excellent resume next spring if he decides to declare.
Stewart (Oregon – 3JR) 5’11” 232
The nation’s top RB recruit in the 2005 class has made solid,
but relatively unspectacular progress, in his first two seasons.
His development has been hampered by injuries. Ankle problems
have plagued him both years and a neck strain slowed him last
year, as well. As a true freshman, Stewart saw just 53 carries
as RB2. Last year he lead the team in rushing (183-981-10, 5.4
ypc), but fellow 05 RB recruit Jeremiah Johnson saw significant
carries (103) again too. Injuries have played a role in impeding
his development. Pass-happy OC Gary Crowton left for LSU in the
off-season and new OC Chip Kelly is known for running a spread
offense as well, but the buzz from both Kelly and HC Mike Bellotti
seems to be a commitment to feature Stewart in 2007. Stewart has
ideal measurables with a thick, solid build, ideal for a workhorse
back. He has track speed and it translates well in the return
game, where he has been one of top kick returners in the country,
but not always out of the backfield. He is a smart player and
selfless to a fault, perhaps lacking the desirable borderline
arrogance of a RB who demands the ball with the game on the line.
Stewart was fully healthy and looking good in the spring game,
where he posted 41 yards on just 5 carries and caught two passes.
If durability is no longer a problem and the team commits to featuring
him, a breakthrough season seems inevitable this year.
Mendenhall (Illinois – 3JR) 5’11” 205
Mendenhall has the talent to emerge as one of the best RBs in
the country this year, but has a lot to do to prove it. A blue
chip 2005 recruit, he stayed in-state with a struggling Illinois
program to play with his older brother (Walter, a reserve FB).
Rashard has been behind Pierre Thomas and E.B. Halsey the last
two years, but both are gone now and he should be the feature
attraction this season. Second on the team in rushing with 640
yards last year, he averaged 8.2 ypc thanks to his big play ability
(two runs over 75 yards, as well as one catch). While he was featured
in a few games and clearly more talented than any other RB on
the roster, he was unable to hang on to the role due to ball security.
He had four fumbles on just 78 carries. Mendenhall got off to
a slow start while other junior runners raced out of the blocks
and have risen to prominence to create a buzz about the underclassmen
potential in this RB class. However, he should catch them this
year and be among the crowd with the credentials to declare early.
Ore (Virginia Tech – 4JR) 5’11” 202
As a redshirt freshman in 2005, Ore quickly flashed his potential
filling in for Cedric Humes when he was hurt. However, after off-season
shoulder surgery, his career as a Hokie was in doubt. Ore was
falling behind in class and not showing dedication to the football
program in the off-season. At the time, the company line was Ore
took the spring 2006 semester off to rehabilitate his shoulder.
However, both RB coach Billy Hite and Ore have since confirmed
he was told to take the time off and either show improvement in
his maturity or move on. The reality check of working in a 7-Eleven
warehouse for a few months quickly had him wanting to return to
football and college life. He re-enrolled in July and worked hard
through a breakout season in 2006. Despite basically missing the
last two ACC games with an ankle sprain, he was named an All-ACC
First Team RB, finishing the year with over 1,000 rushing yards
and 17 total TDs (16 rushing).
Ore has excellent lateral movement and agility, a solid cutback
runner with good vision. However, he can dance behind the line
too much and runs very upright through the hole despite being
under 6’ tall. He breaks tackles well with a solid stiff
arm and great leg drive, although he’ll need to bulk up
to succeed doing it at the next level. While he broke a few big
plays last year, he does not appear to have breakaway speed.
Davis (Clemson – 3JR) 5’11” 208
Burst on the scene as a true freshman in 2005 and quickly took
over the starting role from Reggie Merriweather, rushing for almost
1K despite starting just half their games. He started every game
in 2006 and improved on his production, but the arrival of blue
chip RB recruit C.J. Spiller meant Davis still shared the ball.
Davis staked his claim to remain RB1a will 100 yards on just six
carries in their spring game, including a 65-yard TD.
While he lacks the home run speed of backfield partner Spiller,
he has decent speed. Davis hits the hole with authority and breaks
arm tackles well, but runs far too upright for the next level.
He is a cut-and-go runner, a good fit for a zone blocking scheme,
but may not have the quickness to get the corner in the NFL. Along
with the fact he faces the perfect storm building against his
draft value, a stacked RB class and a blue chip recruit taking
away touches, I’m a bit more conservative on his outlook
despite his seemingly inevitable decision to declare early.
Lucky (Nebraska – 3JR) 6’0” 210
Lucky was unproductive as a true freshman in 2005 while the Cornhuskers
were still airing it out too much. He was significantly more productive
in 2006 as the number two rusher behind Brandon Jackson. With
Jackson departing early for the draft, Lucky will compete to be
the I-Back this season. That looked in jeopardy after a strange
incident in February where he was hospitalized for a few days
for “undisclosed medical reasons”. Neither Lucky nor
anyone associated with the program has commented on what happened,
but Lucky was fully read for spring practice. His odds of being
featured this season improved as the Cornhusker backfield has
been hit with injuries. Kenny Wilson, a top RB JUCO transfer in
2005, was expected to be out for the spring recovering from a
staph infection in his knee. However, Wilson is now likely to
miss the season after breaking his leg moving a TV in late March.
Also clearing the path is the lingering right foot injury of fellow
junior Cody Glenn that has been a problem since November. It has
limited Glenn throughout spring. Lucky had another scare in the
spring game. After 94 yards on 16 carries, he went down awkwardly
on his left knee during a tackle in the fourth quarter. However,
it was apparently just a MCL sprain and he is expected to be fine.
The Cornhuskers had visions of Lucky and Glenn being a version
of Reggie Bush and LenDale White, respectively, when the two arrived
in 2005. Both improved significantly last year as the Nebraska
running game finally got back on track under HC Bill Callahan,
but expectations have been recalibrated. However, with an opportunity
to be featured in the revitalized Cornhusker running game this
year, Lucky could have a breakout season and the former blue chip
recruit could look to make the jump.
Wells (Ohio State – 3JR) 5’10” 192
A blue chip recruit out of Florida, Wells looked in great position
to have an immediate impact as the Ohio State running game struggled
in 2004 after the abrupt departure of Maurice Clarett before the
season. However, Antonio Pittman grabbed the feature role in 2005
and left little work for Wells as RB2. An even bluer chip, Chris
Wells, signed in 2006 and quickly leapfrogged Maurice behind Pittman
As has been his modus operandi, Maurice had another productive
spring, but his outlook for the fall remains dim. He was the leading
rusher in the spring game with 48 yards on 14 carries (3.4 ypc),
but Chris Wells was sidelined with an ankle injury. Maurice should
be RB2, but Chris should be featured. Maurice has home run speed,
but has failed to display it in his limited touches. His longest
career run is 32 yards and he has a sub-3.5 career ypc. He also
hasn’t added value elsewhere, with just four career receptions
and one kick-off return. Without displaying those skills to be
worth a roster spot as a change of pace back, he doesn’t
hold much promise for the next level. However, he is an injury
away from the opportunity for a breakout season, in which case
he would be a likely early draft entrant instead of sticking around
to be passed again.
Brown (North Carolina State – 3JR) 6’0”
232 and Toney
Baker (North Carolina State – 3JR) 5’10”
State’s dynamic duo have split carries nearly down the middle
and taken turns leading the team in rushing their first two seasons.
The smaller Baker is supposed to bring better timed speed, but
Brown has come up with more breakaway runs. Baker is the more
productive receiver. In the spring game, Baker was featured for
the White team and dominated with 23-163-2. Brown split time with
both teams, finishing with 11-112-2. With a potentially stacked
underclass declaring this year, it seems unlikely either would
declare, barring injury and one capitalizing on the opportunity