1. Georgia: Easy pick. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall rushed for a combine 2,144 yards and 25 touchdowns last season as freshmen. That is scary good. Gurley (6'1 232 lbs.) runs like a bulldozer, but with surprising quickness. Marshall (5'11 219 lbs.) is the faster of the two, but also breaks tackles with ease. Not only is this the best duo in the SEC, it's the best in the country.
2. Alabama: Splitting time along side Eddie Lacy was no problem for T.J. Yeldon last season. The freshman, Yeldon, rushed 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns and was an absolute beast (25 car., 153 yds., TD) in the SECCG against Georgia. He'll be backed up by a slew of talented underclassmen in 2013, including Kenyan Drake who rushed for a touchdown against Mississippi State last season. Derrick Henry (6'3 238 lbs.) is another player to watch. Henry, a freshman, enrolled at Alabama in January and was having a fantastic spring before breaking his leg.
3. LSU: With or without Jeremy Hill this is a really good group. Hill (755 yds., 12 TDs) was fantastic as a freshman last season and could be poised for an even bigger year, if he plays. If not, Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue, and Terrence Magee are all talented enough to put up really good numbers.
4. Texas A&M: The Aggies' running backs are solid with the chance to be great. Brandon Williams, a transfer from Oklahoma, was a five-star recruit a couple of years ago and won the team weight room offensive MVP award this off-season. If he's as good as advertised, then I may be underselling this group. Ben Malena (808 yds., 7 TDs) returns and will combine with Williams to form a really nice duo.
5. Mississippi State: There's a lot to love about the running backs in Starkville. Senior LaDarius Perkins is back after rushing for 1,024 yards in his first year as a full-time starter (1,509 all-purpose). The Bulldogs also return the rest of the depth-chart behind Perkins. Josh Robinson (335 yards), Nick Griffin (223 yards), and Derrick Milton will battle for carries behind Lay-Day. Robinson led the team in rushing with 91 yards vs Northwester in the Gator Bowl.
6. Auburn: Tre Mason was one of the few bright spots for the Tigers last season. After being known for his kick returning abilities in 2011, Mason had a break out year in 2012 by rushing for 1,002 yards and 8 TDs. Cameron Artis-Payne, rated as the top JUCO RB last season, looks like the next guy off the bench after grabbing spring game offensive MVP honors (117 yards rushing, 47 receiving).
7. Florida: Sophomore Matt Jones could be the starter in Gainsville, but there will be plenty of competition. Jones finished last season strong with 146 yards in the final two regular season games. He'll likely be pushed by freshman Kelvin Taylor, the most celebrated Florida running back recruit since Emmitt Smith. Taylor shattered Smith's state of Florida career rushing yards record (by his junior season) and finished his high school career with 12,000+ yards and 191 TDs. His pedigree isn't bad either. His father, Fred (maybe you've heard of him), played for the Gators and was an All-Pro running back in the NFL.
8. Tennessee: New head coach Butch Jones has the versatile duo of Marlon Lane and Rajon Neal to move the chains with this season. Both guys rushed for around 700 yards and are really good receivers too.
9. Ole Miss: Jeff Scott may be small, but he's a perfect fit for Hugh Freeze's offense. Scott, a senior, used his speed to rush for 846 yards last season. Freshman Mark Dodson from Memphis was really impressive this spring and could be in line to back-up Scott.
10. South Carolina: I'm not very high on this group. Mike Davis looks to be the starter, but his numbers were pretty pedestrian last season when he filled in for an injured Marcus Lattimore. Brandon Wilds could see significant playing time as well, but after a stellar freshman year in 2011, he didn't record a carry last season.
11. Arkansas: If there's a position where freshman typically have success in college football, it's running back. Head Coach Brett Bielema likes to run the ball and I think he'd be wise to hand the ball off to ultra-talented, true freshman Alex Collins as much as possible this season.
12. Missouri: The Tigers are one of only five SEC teams returning a 1,000 yard rusher. The problem is that Henry Josey's 1,168 yards came in 2011. Josey missed all of 2012 with a severe knee injury. If he can stay healthy, this unit is better than where I am ranking them.
13. Kentucky: Head Coach Mark Stoops has a couple of weapons at his disposal. Raymond Sanders III rushed for 659 yards and five TDs last season. And Jonathan George, 504 rushing yards in '12, was fantastic (12 carries, 87 yards) in a near upset of Georgia.
14. Vanderbilt: Unfortunately for Vandy, Zac Stacy is gone and there aren't any Zach Stacy's on the roster. Wesley Tate is a talented short-yardage runner who scored eight TDs last season. He and Brian Kimbrow, who showed some burst last season, will battle for the starting job.
Top 5 Running Backs in the SEC:
1. Gurley (UGA)
2. Yeldon (BAMA)
3. Marshall (UGA)
4. Taylor (Florida)
5. Perkins (MSU)
How would you rank the running back units in the SEC?