Top 15 College Football Running Backs

Givanni Damico | August 23rd, 2019

As the college football season looms on the horizon, let’s take a look at some of the most talented running backs in the country. You may be surprised where some of the bigger names fall on this list. Check out my top 10 quarterbacks here.

1) Travis Etienne

School: Clemson

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 200 Lbs

Travis Etienne is a very well-rounded player who has been fortunate enough to play for a winning program. He is constantly in the spotlight allowing him to flash his talent for everybody to see. He’s played with two very successful college quarterbacks in Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence which certainly helps a young player’s development. Not to mention the fact that he is coached by Dabo Swinney, who is one of the best coaches in college football, if not the best (don’t come at me).

Etienne admitted in so many words that he needs to work on his pass-catching to become a better player. I was impressed because it’s not too often that a superstar player is humble enough to admit that he needs improvement in a certain category. If he becomes more useful in the passing game, it’s game over. There would be no better well-rounded running back in the class and the Clemson offense would be even more of a threat.

The explosiveness and the motor that Etienne plays with is incomparable. He isn’t just a playmaker, he’s a big playmaker. He doesn’t settle with a seven-yard gain to pick up a first down, instead, using his elite vision to create huge gains. Etienne is my favorite running back prospect I’ve ever scouted (overtaking Rodney Anderson if anybody cared), and I’m hoping that he can improve his pass-catching and live up to the hype.

2) D’Andre Swift

School: Georgia

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’9″, 215 LBs

Oh look, another projected first-round running back from Georgia. Yawn. Except there is something different about Swift for me. I like him more than Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as a prospect right now. Now I’m going to strike some fear into college football fans right now. We haven’t even seen Swift in a full starting role yet. He still ran for over 1,000 yards last season while splitting carries. So to anyone who says Swift is overrated, I have one question: How? How can a player be overrated if he hasn’t even been a starter yet, but has still recorded 1,300 all-purpose yards in a season?

Swift is a great pass-catcher which will set him apart from others in the class. With the value of running backs deteriorating more and more in the NFL, Swift is a different story who can be a monster for whoever drafts him. Georgia has always used multiple running backs over the course of a season, but I’m hoping that Swift will mainly carry the load to show off his ability more than he has been able to in the past.

3) J.K. Dobbins

College: Ohio State

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 215 LBs

Dobbins had a really disappointing sophomore season after being an outstanding true freshman. Last year, Dobbins had 36 more carries but 350 fewer yards than he did in his first season. One reason was that they didn’t properly utilize him last year, instead, giving a few too many reps to Mike Weber. Dobbins wasn’t a workhorse, and that can mess up consistency.

One thing that I notice about Dobbins is that he is a very good east to west runner. He’ll stay behind the line for longer than normal to try and find a hole. This shows his mental processing ability and the great vision that he can have. He reminds me of LeSean McCoy a lot in these ways. I need to see the true freshman form J.K. Dobbins as Ohio State will attempt a national championship run. He will be vital in that process.

4) Ke’Shawn Vaughn

College: Vanderbilt

Year: Senior

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 214 LBs

Ke’Shawn Vaughn is one of the most overlooked players at his position in this year’s stacked draft class. Playing in his first year at Vanderbilt since transferring from Illinois last year, Vaughn averaged nearly eight yards per carry and found his way to the end zone 14 times total. He wasn’t utilized in the passing game very much, but with Riley Neal transferring in this year, the team should be more of a threat.

Vaughn is a power runner who has some breakaway speed. Not many power backs can get away with averaging eight yards per carry, but with his skill set, he made it look easy. Now that he has a competent quarterback, there aren’t many excuses for Vaughn to be ineffective in the passing game. He needs to do what he did last year as well as to be a leader on that team.

5) Eno Benjamin

College: Arizona State

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 201 LBs

When you look up the word “workhorse” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of this guy during his 2018 season, Eno Benjamin. As a true sophomore, he carried the ball 300 times for 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry which may seem a bit underwhelming after looking at Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 7.9, but Eno got the ball in his hands much more than Vaughn.

Not only does he do it on the ground, but Benjamin is the only other threat in the passing game in this top five. Last year he reeled in 35 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns. The one gripe I have about Benjamin is that he tries to do too much sometimes. Instead of taking an open lane, he’ll throw an extra juke move in which ends up hurting his yardage. I’d like to see some more maturity from Benjamin in his junior campaign, as he will play a vital role in his team contending for a solid bowl game.

6) Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

7) J.J. Taylor, Arizona

8) AJ Dillon, Boston College

9) Anthony McFarland, Maryland

10) Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

11) Jordan Cronkrite, South Florida

12) Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma

13) Zack Moss, Utah

14) Najee Harris, Alabama

15) Lamical Perine, Florida

Questions and comments?

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