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Top 10 Running Backs in the Pac 12 in 2013

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Top 10 Pac 12 Running Backs of 2013

Ka'Deem Carey
Rick Scuteri - USA TODAY Sports

The running back position may never have been healthier than it is this season in the Pac 12. While the conference does lose some standouts from 2012 like Kenjon Barner from the Oregon Ducks, Stepfan Taylor with the Stanford Cardinal and John White of the Utah Utes, the conference welcomes back four rushers who gained at least 900 yards last season, including the leading rusher in the nation.

And that talent is getting recognized. Nine running backs were included on the presesason Doak Walker Award watch list from eight different programs. The state of the running back position may never be stronger than it is right nor for the conference. Almost every team has a star at running back ready to be unleashed in 2013 and take a run at being the best running back in the Pac 12.

But in the end, only one of them will stand at the top as the best back in the conference. Can the leading rusher in college football from 2012 repeat his performance and crash through the 2,000-yard barrier? Will the dynamic playmaker out of Oregon break through as a complete running back in 2013? Perhaps one of the Stanford backs will stake their claim as the conference’s best? It could end up being just about any of the talented rushers from the conference leading their teams.

Only time will tell for sure but it’s never too early to speculate how things will shake out at season’s end. Without further ado, we count down the top 10 running backs in the Pac 12 for the 2013 season.

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10. Christian Powell, Colorado Buffaloes

Christian Powell
Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

Christian Powell is a big bruiser out of Boulder, coming in at a hefty 235 pounds that he uses to bust through the line of scrimmage. He rushed for 691 yards and seven touchdowns last season as a freshman and was a solid piece of an underwhelming Buffs’ offense in 2012. He will give Colorado a solid power option between the tackles and near the goal line and should continue to barrel his way to solid yardage in 2013.

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9. Anthony Wilkerson, Stanford Cardinal

anthony wilkerson
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford running game is going to use plenty of different options, but Anthony Wilkerson appears poised to take the No. 1 running back job following Stepfan Taylor’s graduation. He didn’t get a great deal of work last season, rushing just 50 times for 224 yards and a touchdown (Taylor was quite a workhorse) and he will have plenty of other backs to split reps with. But the Cardinal will have a strong, physical running game in 2013 and whoever comes away with the most carries will have an excellent season.

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8. D.J. Foster, Arizona State Sun Devils

D.J. Foster
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

While he may get overshadowed in his own backfield, D.J. Foster has the talent to rank among the best backs in the Pac 12. He averaged nearly five yards a carry in 2012 as he picked up 493 yards rushing and scored twice on the ground. He proved to be a very versatile playmaker as well, catching 38 passes for 533 yards and scoring four receiving touchdowns. He’s a complete playmaker and Todd Graham will undoubtedly cook up ways to get him the touches he needs in 2013.

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7. Brendan Bigelow, Cal Bears

Brendan Bigelow
James Snook - USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Bigelow may have been one of the most criminally underused backs in all of college football last season. Despite averaging a ridiculous 9.8 yards per carry and arguably having one of the best runs of the year against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Cal couldn’t find a role for Bigelow in 2012 as he finished with just 431 yards and three touchdowns. New head coach Sonny Dykes will make it a priority to get the ball in Bigelow’s hands more often in 2013, which should result in a big season, barring injury.

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6. Storm Woods, Oregon State Beavers

Storm Woods
Scott Olmos - USA TODAY Sports

Storm Woods, in addition to earning his place on the All-Name Team in 2012, burst onto the scene as a freshman and single-handedly gave Oregon State hope for their running game for the next several years. He rushed for 940 yards and 13 touchdowns through nagging injuries all season that cost him a pair of games. This season, with an improved offensive line in front of him, Woods should blow past the 1,000-yard mark in 2013 and take his place among the bright young stars of the conference.

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5. Silas Redd, USC Trojans

silas redd
Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports

Silas Redd moved across the country to take over the running back duties for USC in 2012 and became one of four returning backs in the conference to rush for at least 900 yards last season. He picked up 905 yards and scored nine touchdowns while splitting reps with Curtis McNeal last year. While McNeal is gone in 2013, Redd may still have to split reps with a talented young stable of backs behind him, itching to get their reps.

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4. Bishop Sankey, Washington Huskies

bishop sankey
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Bishop Sankey was so strong last season that he won the MVP Award at the Las Vegas Bowl despite Washington losing the game. He looks to be even stronger in 2013 and build off his 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns from 2012 behind an improved offensive line. He’ll be an important piece of the Huskies’ offense in 2013 as he provides balance for Keith Price and the passing game. How well he does next season just might depend on how much better the offensive line in front of him got this offseason.

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3. Marion Grice, Arizona State Sun Devils

marion grice
Cary Edmondson - USA TODAY Sports

Stepping up as the big-play threat for one of the best running back duos in the country, Marion Grice is poised to do some major damage in 2013. He rushed for 679 yards on 103 carries last season with 11 touchdowns on the ground. Grice proved himself as a complete back, adding another eight receiving touchdowns and should be given a bigger role in the offense from Graham next fall.

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2. De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon Ducks

de'anthony thomas
Scott Olmos - USA TODAY Sports

Though he might be even more dangerous as a receiver, De’Anthony Thomas can’t be ignored in the backfield. He carried the ball just 92 times in 2012 for 701 yards, but scored 11 rushing touchdowns. He’s six points waiting to happen every time he has the football and he should see plenty of opportunities to score as the primary back for Oregon’s high-flying rushing attack next season.

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1. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona Wildcats

ka'deem carey
Andrew Fielding - USA TODAY Sports

After leading the nation in 2012 with 1,929 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns, Ka’Deem Carey is looking to blow past the 2,000-yard mark in 2013. Rich Rodriguez now understands the talent he has at tailback and will have spent his offseason finding ways to get the ball into his hands. His role will be even more important for Arizona next season as they break in a new quarterback and a host of new receivers. Prepare yourself for some fireworks from the Pac 12’s top running back this season.