The Southeastern Conference has produced many great running backs in its history. From Herschel Walker of the Georgia Bulldogs to Bo Jackson of the Auburn Tigers to Mark Ingram of the Alabama Crimson Tide, there is a long tradition of great running backs in college football’s best conference.
The 2014 season figures to be another in which the SEC produces some outstanding ball carriers.
Start with Georgia, which returns sophomore backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards last season, tops in the conference, with 17 touchdowns in 2012. Marshall added 759 yards, on just 117 carries (6.5 yards per rush), with eight touchdowns. The Bulldogs appear to return the best running back combination in the SEC.
Not to be overlooked, though, are the Alabama running backs. T.J. Yeldon returns for his sophomore season after an outstanding rookie campaign. Yeldon rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns during his first season in Tuscaloosa. Kenyan Drake is also back, after rushing for 281 yards and five scores last season. Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and Derrick Henry could also contribute for Alabama.
The Texas A&M Aggies have Ben Malena returning in the backfield. Malena had 808 yards on the ground last year. Brandon Williams, who transferred from the Oklahoma Sooners to College Station, should also contribute. Another transfer, Tra Carson (from the Oregon Ducks) should also see time.
The LSU Tigers continue to produce a stable of top running backs. While Jeremy Hill is suspended, LSU still has firepower in the backfield. Kenny Hilliard is back for LSU, after rushing for 464 yards in 2012. Alfred Blue, who rushed for 270 yards last season, also returns.
The Ole Miss Rebels also figure to have a strong rushing game in 2013. Jeff Scott, who had 846 yards on the ground last season, is back in 2013. Scott is approaching 2,000 yards rushing for his career. Backing Scott will be I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.
While there may be no Herschel Walker or Bo Jackson among these backs, the SEC still showcases some of the best rushers in the college game.