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|Rating the running backs|
The SEC usually has a deep talent pool at every position on the field, but the running back position is garnering all the attention this offseason, as it should. The talent is so deep, that I had put together a list of who I thought would be the best running backs in the SEC this year. I'm going to go ahead and say there's not a whole lot separating the guys 1-4 with the guys that are 5-10.
1. Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina, So.)
I just love the way Marcus Lattimore plays football. The man runs the ball the way it's supposed to be run. He was sensational as a true freshman last year, and I expect him to be the same this season. He runs hard, stays low to the ground and is always falling forward to gain those couple of extra yards.
2. Trent Richardson (Alabama, Jr.)
It's finally his turn to carry the team, and carry the team he will. Trent Richardson is a freakish athlete that possesses both power to run through defenders and leave them behind with a burst of speed. Richardson averaged 6.3 yards for the offense last year and will get more carries now that Mark Ingram is playing for the New Orleans Saints.
3. Knile Davis (Arkansas, Jr.)
Coming in at number three on the list is the guy that led the conference in rushing last year. Knile Davis had 1,322 yards last season and will be more heavily relied on this year now that Ryan Mallett isn't in town anymore. The Hogs will still be pass heavy because of the talent they have at receiver, but Davis will have bigger numbers this year than last year.
4. Michael Dyer (Auburn, So.)
Michael Dyer broke Bo Jackson's freshman school rushing record last year, and I look for Dyer to add more stats to break future records this year. Dyer is difficult to tackle and has speed when he gets to the outside. Auburn will have a great thunder and lightning tandem with Dyer and Onterrio McCalebb.
5. Spencer Ware (LSU, So.)
Did you watch the Cotton Bowl last year? LSU used Ware as a receiving back for the entire year, and Ware rarely rushed the ball out of the backfield last season but things will be different this year. Ware showed the world what he could do when he gets the rock, and that's spinning and stiff arming his way through the defense.
6. Brandon Bolden (Ole Miss, Sr.)
Brandon Bolden is a battering ram. Ole Miss will pound the ball with him at least 20 times a game just to soften the defense. Bolden will be the focal point of this Rebel offense, and his numbers will increase as a result.
7. Onterio McCalebb (Jr.)
Auburn sophomore defensive tackle Nosa Eguae told me last month at SEC Media Days that he thinks McCalebb is ready for a breakout year and said he was running through the tackles this offseason, and I have to agree with Eguae. While Dyer is worthy of all the hype he gets, McCalebb has gone a little bit under the radar, and I believe he will have a tremendous season for the Tigers this year.
8. Vick Ballard (Mississippi State, Sr.)
Vick Ballard had a tremendous year last year for the Bulldogs by racking up 968 yards rushing and scoring 19 touchdowns. He's poised to do it again this year with a re-invigorated Mississippi State team that's ready to establish themselves as contender in the West.
9. Jeff Demps (Florida, Sr.)
Jeff Demps'; future may not be in football, but he certainly has had a memorable college career thus far at Florida. Chris Rainey was more productive last year, and will have an advantage going into the season because of Demps being in Italy with the U.S. track team for most of the summer. I still believe that Demps will have a more productive year; however, and he'll benefit from John Brantley's comfortability with the new offense.
10. Isaiah Crowell (Georgia, Fr.)
He was the best high school player in Georgia a year ago, and he will make an immediate impact for the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have lost running backs Washuan Ealey and Caleb King over the past year, and they will be relying heavily on the true freshman to produce somewhat like Lattimore did a year ago.
Honorable Mention: Tauren Poole, Warren Norman and Chris Rainey.
Jake Martin is a summer intern for the Sentinel.
He is sports editor for the Nicholls Worth.
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