Below are the SEC’s top 5 running backs heading into next year.
1) Najee Harris — Alabama
Harris has become a household name throughout the nation. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Harris boasts lethal power, speed, and coordination, as he can run downhill or get around the edge. Given his frame, Harris can pick up any blitz if needed. Once in the open field, with a fierce stiff-arm and joystick style juke moves, he is nearly impossible to get on the ground. Harris accumulated 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
Today’s back is a jack of all trades. And Harris fits the bill. In addition to being a formidable runner and blocker, Harris is an underappreciated receiver. He is sneaky and one of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s favorite weapons. Expect his number of receptions to skyrocket from last year’s total of 27. Look for more scores reminiscent to 2019’s iconic sequence in Columbia in which Harris took it upon himself to torch the Gamecocks.
2) Kylin Hill — Mississippi State
Hill is mostly known for his power, and rightfully so. But it is his vision that is most imposing to defenses. Hill can get between the tackles, shed off blocks, and take advantage of an open lane. In doing so, Hill put forth his best campaign as a Bulldog in 2019, having posted 1,350 yards and ten touchdowns. As pertains to pass protection, Standford transfer KJ Costello will need help, as coach Mike Leach will look to Hill as a blocker in certain situations.
Like Harris, Hill can get it done in the receiving game. Leach should utilize him both in the slot and along the sidelines. His well-rounded game will pay dividends throughout the season.
3) Rakeem Boyd — Arkansas
His 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns spoke volumes last year. But what was most impressive was his average of 6.2 yards per rush. Boyd is a pure runner who can gauge any defense and get to the second level in the blink of an eye. He is an experienced student of the game and should show no signs of slowing down.
Though he may not possess the pass-catching skills of Harris and Hill, Boyd will square up against any defender and maybe the best pass protector on this list. In the running game, Boyd will continue to jump off the screen, increasing his numbers in attempts, yards, and scores.
4) Larry Rountree — Missouri
While Roundtree did not eclipse the one thousand yard mark, he made his presence felt. Do not expect that aspect to change. Still respectable, Roundtree rushed for 829 yards and nine touchdowns.
Like Boyd, Roundtree is not a receiver, but a downhill workhorse with a nose for the endzone. Given Roundtree’s usage rate is sure to increase, he should have a thousand-yard season and then some.
5) Jerrion Ealy — Ole Miss
Ealy asserted himself as a freshman and is due to break out as a sophomore. Though a bit undersized at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Ealy is a dual-threat. He collected 722 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. In the air, Ealy recorded 20 receptions for 172 yards and a score.
He needs work on pass-protection but will jump out of the gate in all other aspects. Ealy is a modern-day back and can get by any defender and break ankles if able to get on the edge.
As it pertains to Mississippi State, Hill’s play will dictate the Bulldogs offense. Look for him to carry most of the load and find the endzone more often than not.