The SEC is a rough league, known for the best defense and the best competition in college football. The only way to make it through all of those stout SEC defenses, is to have a balanced, powerful offense, with a great running game… and the key to that is a great featured running back. Let’s take a look at the top halfbacks in the conference.
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU
Fournette is just a monster. He was the number one recruit coming out of high school, and he showed why last season. He might’ve started a bit slow, but he came up big towards the end of the season. his 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns were just a small sample of what we could this season. His best game last year saw him total 140 yards and 2 touchdowns against a great Florida defense.
I’d expect one or two 200 yard games and at least 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns. LSU will give opponents nightmares with their combination of great talent, and a blockbuster back in Fournette. He might not have had the most flashy games last season, but just wait until this guy gets a whole season as his team’s #1 guy.
2. Nick Chubb, Georgia
Chubb was a huge surprise last year. He was a good recruit, but no one expected him to burst onto the scene so soon, or so powerfully. He looked unstoppable at times, and will only improve. his 1,547 were second in the SEC, and I think he will have more this year, with some easy early games. He will be even more important now that he is the top Dawg in Athens. He is a beast and should continue that overwhelming style of running this season.
Chubb could have more yards than Fournette this season, somewhere around 1,700, but the reason he is number two is because this might be a tough season for Georgia, and Chubb might put up good numbers on a less competitive squad.
3. Derrick Henry, Alabama
Their might not be more of a monster in college football than Derrick Henry. He was being considered to play linebacker, and when you watch this guy demolish defenders, you can tell why. He has great power, size and strength, and puts fear into his opposition. His issue is playing smartly and soundly, instead of just bulldozing everyone in front of him. With 990 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore, I’d be afraid to see how well he does this year. He is a skilled player, just not as much as Chubb or Fournette, but he still deserves lots of recognition, and to be feared by every defensive coordinator in the country. watch for him to post similar numbers this year.
4. Jalen Hurd, Tennessee
Hurd was Tennessee’s gem in their 2013 recruiting class, and he showed bursts of how good a player he can be in his Freshman season. He has the size, speed, and skill of an elite running back, and looks like he has a long pro career ahead of him. His best game last year was when he posted 125 yards against South Carolina and a receiving touchdown. He had 899 yards last year and can easily get past 1,000 this season. He will quickly become one of the best players in the SEC, and by his junior season, maybe the country.
5. Kelvin Taylor, Florida
Coming into Florida as the #1 running back left some high expectations for Taylor, which he hasn’t quite lived up to yet. 565 yards and 6 touchdowns aren’t the flashy numbers expected of this player, but he was also sharing carries with Matt Jones. Taylor knows that this is his year to show what he can do and why he was ranked so highly. New coach Jim McElwain also has a more potent offense, which is perfect for an athletic back like Taylor. I expect him to be much closer to 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, then his pedestrian numbers this past season.
6. Russell Hansbrough, Missouri
The first senior on my list, Hansbrough is a veteran, and plays like one. He is small and uses that to his advantage. He hides behind his blocks and gets extra yards every play because of it. He also has the game breaking speed needed to take over games in the SEC, which he has done many a time. Last year he had 1084 yards and 10 touchdowns, and I see similar production for him again. Hopefully he can lead Missouri to another great year, at the top of the SEC east.
7. Alex Collins, Arkansas
He’s been consistently great and I expect another great season. He might be small, but he’s feisty. His 1,1oo yards and 12 touchdowns should be repeated this year. He just has the speed and awareness of a great. The most amazing part is that he shares carries with Jonathan Williams, and still manages to stand out. Watch for him to become a bit more involved in the passing game this year, as his next step in becoming a more complete back.
8. Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
The other part of Arkansas’s two-headed monster, Williams is a star. His 1190 yards and 12 touchdowns shows how much star power Williams has. The team still has a lot of work to do if they want to compete in the SEC west, but the best thing he could do to move up this list is carry his team to some wins. They might not come so easily this year, so J-Will and Collins will have their work cut out for themselves. He should try to repeat last year’s numbers.
9. Stanley Williams, Kentucky
This small sophomore might be playing for Kentucky, but he put up legitimate number for a freshman. His 486 yard and 5 touchdowns might not have been important, or lead to wins, but he showed he can play, which can be very useful for Kentucky. Any yards are good yard, and Kentucky will take what they can get as they try to become relevant in the SEC east. Williams might not be the biggest, but his speed and agility can give defenses fits as long as his line blocks, and his passing game offers some time off. Look for him to get 700 to 800 yards and maybe lead his team to an upset or two.
10. Damien Harris, Alabama
My first Freshman in these rankings, Harris was the highest rated Running Back recruit, and deserved it. He’s small, strong, and quick, and can put up numbers now in the SEC. He could have a few big games this season, which would make Bama even more deadly than they already are.