Kings of the Rock: Running Backs Set to Take College Football by Storm

Story posted August 31, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joe Murphy

College football saw the resurgence of the running back position last year as Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the Heisman trophy. Henry ran for over 2,200 and scored 28 touchdowns to lead the nation.

He was not the only running back with considerable success last year as Christian McCaffrey also ran for over 2,000 yards as part of his NCAA record 3,864 all-purpose yards. The Heisman runner-up returns to Stanford to try and outdo his stellar performance from last season.

LSU junior running back Leonard Fournette finished third in the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns with 1,953 and 22, respectively. His stellar start to the season was stalled by a poor performance against Alabama, but Fournette looks poised to run over the competition this season.

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is another potential Heisman candidate after setting the school record for rushing yards in a season. The quarterback uncertainty at Florida State could mean that Cook might trounce his numbers from a season ago.

While the three returning running backs mentioned above are getting most of the spotlight, there are numerous backs around the nation that had seasons just as good as them. Oregon running back Royce Freeman is a great example of this as he finished with more rushing touchdowns than both Cook and Fournette with 23. His performance is imperative to the success of the Ducks as graduate transfer Dakota Prukop takes control of the offense.

North Carolina running back Elijah Hood enters this season as one of the nation’s most underrated backs, after running for nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. Hood is the focal point of a Tar Heel offense that lost quarterback Marquise Williams to graduation.

Some of the nation’s top running backs had great seasons, but were completely overshadowed by stellar quarterback play. The best examples of this are Wayne Gallman and Samaje Perine.

Gallman set a school record with 1,527 rushing yards, but his play was dwarfed by star quarterback Deshaun Watson. While Watson is the star of the Tigers attack, Gallman needs to play well in order for Clemson to replicate the success they had last season.

Perine had another successful season for the Sooners, running for over 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns, but the outstanding play of quarterback Baker Mayfield put Perine in the background. Mayfield calls the plays for the Sooners, but the loss of Sterling Shephard to the pros means a heavier workload for Perine.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley returns after rushing for almost 1,100 yards in his freshman season. The Nittany Lions will rely heavily on the young back in order to lighten the pressure new starting quarterback Trace McSorley faces.

The running back position is loaded with incredible talent and this season will be filled with star running backs carrying their teams to victory.

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email him at jje5139@psu.edu.