The ACC has a wealth of returning at quarterback in 2012, but the opposite has to be said when it comes to the running back position. Many of last year’s top rushers are gone for one reason or another. Virginia Tech’s star tailback and 2011 ACC Player of the Year David Wilson left school early to enter the NFL draft, Miami star Lamar Miller did the same and Boston College star Montel Harris was kicked off the team. This isn’t to say that the ACC will struggle when it comes to rushing this season. The conference has some talented names poised to make an impact in 2012, so who is the ACC’s best running back?
This competition comes down to two running backs. They are the only two returning backs to rush for over 1,000 yards last season. Clemson’s Andre Ellington is entering his senior year with the Tigers. As a junior he ran for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ellington wasn’t a big name in the ACC last year but that was mainly because he was sharing the field with stars like Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Ellington appears ready to have a breakout season even if he is still sharing the field with those same stars.
The other player in the running for the ACC’s top running back in 2012 is North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard. He was a redshirt freshman last year and he took the Coastal Division by storm. He ran for 1,253 yards last season and 13 touchdowns. He proved himself to be a potent weapon in the running game but he also served as a solid receiver when it came to passing. Bernard caught 45 passes last year for a total of 362 yards.
Ellington is the more experienced of these two backs but Bernard will be the best running back in the ACC in 2012. He was almost unbelievable last season as a redshirt freshman and just think how good he can be with an extra year of experience under his built. The Tar Heels don’t have much to be excited about in 2012 but Giovani Bernard provides a good bit of it.