Mickey Plyler's Blog for June 1


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SEC Running Back Rankings


Like the quarterback position, the SEC is loaded with deep talent at running back. I think 10 teams could consider their running backs a strength of their team.


1.Georgia

Thomas Brown (5-8, 185, Jr) 147-736-4 rushing

Danny Ware (6-1, 223, Jr) 101-492-1 rushing

Kregg Lumpkin (6-1, 220, Jr) 66-335-3 rushing

Knowshon Moreno (5-11, 205, Fr)

Brown is the best of this deep group of junior running backs. He is the most complete of the trio. Ware showed signs of brilliance as a freshman but has battled injuries and fumbles. Lumpkin has also had his problems with his knee but is fully recovered. Moreno is the future but there appears to be no room for him in 2006.


2. Auburn

Kenny Irons (5-11, 200, Sr) 256-1293-13 rushing

Brad Lester (5-11, 185, So) 52-339-5 rushing

Tre Smith (5-10, 200, Sr) 56-285-3 rushing

Carl Stewart (6-2, 220, Jr)

Mario Fannin (5-11, 210, Fr)

Ben Tate (5-11, 210, Fr)

Irons is a Heisman candidate after rushing for almost 1,300 yards last season. He will get as many carries as any back in the SEC. Lester will take over in 2007. Smith and Stewart could play for almost any team in the country. Auburn is very committed to the run and this group and this group is a major reason why.


3. Arkansas

Darren McFadden (6-2, 210, So) 176-1113-11 rushing

Felix Jones (6-0, 202, So) 99-626-3 rushing

Michael Smith (5-7, 170, Fr)

McFadden might be the best back in the league. He had an incredible true freshman season. The Hogs want to throw the ball more but McFadden is still the main man. Jones is one of the best second-team backs in the country. He had a great freshman campaign as well by averaging over 6 yards per carry.


4. Alabama

Kenneth Darby (5-11, 205, Sr) 239-1242-3 rushing

Roy Upchurch (6-0, 195, Fr)

Jimmy Johns (6-2, 225, So) 38-202-0 rushing

Mike Ford (6-2, 205, Fr)

Terry Grant (5-10, 190, Fr)

Bama has a workhorse in Darby and a bunch of young talent trying to be his successor. Darby is a tough, hard-nosed, dependable back. Upchurch red-shirted last season but is extremely talented. Johns is a big back that showed some signs last year. Ford is as talented as any back coming out of prep school if he is eligible. Grant is a speedster that can take it the distance on any carry.


5. LSU

Alley Brousard (6-0, 237, Jr)

Justin Vincent (5-10, 220, Sr) 121-488-5 rushing

R.J. Jackson (6-0, 205, Fr)

Keiland Williams (6-1, 210, Fr)

LSU might have the second best running back situation if they were all healthy. Instead almost their entire backfield has had knee problems. Brousard and Vincent could be the nation’s top combination but both have concerns about their knees. Williams may get forced into action but he is more than capable.


6. Tennessee

Arian Foster (6-1, 215, So) 183-879-5 rushing

Monterio Hardesty (6-0, 205, So)

LaMarcus Coker (5-11, 205, Fr)

Dustin Lindsey (6-1, 225, Fr)

When healthy, Foster reminds me of Darren McFadden. Tennessee’s offense was not the same without him. Hardesty is a speed guy that should get more reps this season. Lindsey was one of the nation’s top high school backs last year. The Vols need to get their running game back in gear if they want to have the success that is expected in Knoxville.


7. Florida

DeShawn Wynn (5-11, 232, Sr) 130-621-7 rushing

Markus Manson (6-0, 210, So) 81-365-2 rushing

Kestahn Moore (5-10, 212, So) 48-277-1 rushing

Chevon Walker (5-11, 185, Fr)

Urban Meyers was never pleased with his offense or his backs last season. Wynn has potential to be the every down back but needs to have a big senior season. Manson and Moore are good ones. Moore catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield. Walker went through spring practice and has a chance to come in and play right away.


8. South Carolina

Mike Davis (5-9, 210, So) 146-666-5 rushing

Corey Boyd (6-1, 208, Jr)

Bobby Wallace (5-7, 185, So)

The Gamecocks ran the football much better in the last few games of 2005 and that improvement should continue in 2006. Davis ended the season by rushing for 89 yards against Arkansas, 88 against Florida, 111 against Clemson and 125 against Missouri. Boyd returns after a suspension but he rushed for 541 yards in his first two seasons.


9. Kentucky

Rafael Little (5-10, 200, Jr) 197-1045-9 rushing 46-449-0 receiving

Tony Dixon (5-9, 208, So)

Alphonso Smith (6-1, 200, Fr)

Demetrius Goode (5-10, 185, Fr)

No team in the SEC depends on one player the way Kentucky depends on Little. He is a terrific open-field runner who catches the ball well. The staff feels like Goode may be better in the long run.


10. Vanderbilt

Cassen Jackson-Garrison (6-1, 225, Jr) 97-539-8 rushing

Jeff Jennings (6-1, 225, Jr) 123-448-7 rushing

Jared Hawkins (5-10, 190, Fr)

Vandy feels pretty good about their running game entering the 2006 campaign. Jackson-Garrison is a talent and should be counted on to be more involved in the post-Cutler offense. Jennings is hoping to be healthy in 2006 as well.


11. Ole Miss

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (5-11, 210, Jr) Indiana Transfer

Mico McSwain (6-1, 205, So) 124-612-3 rushing

Cordera Eason (6-1, 235, Fr)

Green-Ellis transfers to Ole Miss from Indiana and has an inside track on the starting job after the spring. McSwain is a speed demon. Eason is a big powerful back that should be a part of this offense as a true freshman.


12. Mississippi State

Brandon Thornton (5-10, 188, So) 47-225-1 rushing

Brandon Hart (5-10, 233, So) 11-24-0 rushing

Anthony Dixon (6-1, 230, Fr)

The Bulldogs are trying to replace Jerious Norwood and his 1,110 yards. Thornton is thought of as a dependable back. Dixon is a big freshman that has an opportunity.


National Top 10 Backs

1. Adrian Peterson Oklahoma

2. Darren McFadden Arkansas

3. Steve Slaton West Virginia

4. Marshawn Lynch Cal

5. Michael Bush Louisville

6. Kenny Irons Auburn

7. Albert Young Iowa

8. James Davis Clemson

9. Brian Leonard Rutgers

10. Tyrell Sutton Northwestern


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