Published January 14, 2014 - 6:30pmNEW: Follow on facebook -
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Offensive Linemen
- Tight Ends
- Defensive Ends
- Defensive Tackles
While there was much talk about the SEC quarterbacks in 2013, the running back cupboard isn’t even close to being bare. In fact, it was loaded this past season, and it will be loaded again next season.
The SEC is known for its downhill, power running offenses, and although offenses may look slightly different with tempo or hurry-up style offenses, explosive offenses are still led by dominant running games and dominant personnel.
Let’s get down to business…
Alone at the top
1. Tre Mason, Auburn (JR)
It’s not about how or where you start; it’s about how you finish. Auburn is the biggest testament to that, and Tre Mason is the perfect example of that. Figured largely to be a top five to seven back in the SEC, Mason was somewhat overlooked headed into the season. He rushed for 1,000 yards in 2012, but he exploded into the SEC’s best back this season. The Heisman finalist rushed for 1,816 yards and 23 TDs, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, and there was no player hotter down the backstretch of the season. He rushed for over 300 in the SEC Championship and nearly rushed for 200 in the national championship. It think he ran home from Pasadena. Mason’s motor never stops.
2. Jeremy Hill, LSU (SO)
3. Mike Davis, South Carolina (SO)
Although Mason was the SEC’s most prolific finisher, Jeremy Hill could have the most upside in the NFL with respect to every player on this list. Hill’s dominance in the ground game helped the Tigers’ offense blow up and become sickly balanced. He rushed for 1,401 yards and 16 TDs, while averaging a crazy 6.9 yards per carry. Hill also caught 18 passes for 181 yards…Mike Davis was the SEC’s top back midway through the season, and he’s arguably the top back returning in 2014. Davis rushed for 1,183 yards, 11 TDs and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. Davis was the SEC’s only back to rush for two 70-plus yard plays during the season. He’s tough; he’s physical, and he also caught 34 passes for 352 yards. That’s a deadly combination.
4. Henry Josey, Missouri (JR)
5. Todd Gurley, Georgia (SO)
Missouri’s Henry Josey was the lifeblood of the SEC’s second best running game. Josey averaged a gaudy 6.7 yards per carry, rushing for 1,166 yards and 16 TDs. Josey was the SEC’s Comeback Player of the Year after he missed the 2012 season due to a horrific knee injury. Josey’s speed, vision and burst were obvious, and all SEC fans should root for this young man at the next level. What a season!…Todd Gurley is the country’s best running back when healthy, but the problem was he struggled to stay healthy in 2013. Gurley missed – all total – about four games due to an ankle injury. He finished just shy of 1,000 yards with 989 and 10 TDs. Georgia’s bully will be the game plan in 2014, assuming he stays healthy.
6. TJ Yeldon, Alabama (SO)
7. Alex Collins, Arkansas (FR)
8. Rajion Neal, Tennessee (SR)
TJ Yeldon is as talented as any back in the country. I thought – at times – Kenyan Drake was more of a spark pug, and Derrick Henry’s emergence in the Sugar Bowl was awe-striking. Yeldon still rushed for 1,235 yards and 14 TDs, but he had major fumbling issues at critical times throughout the season. Yes, Yeldon has tremendous upside and ability, but he has to hold onto the ball much better…Arkansas’ prolific freshman Alex Collins lived up to the hype. When everyone knew what was coming, Collins still ran it effectively. He received 190 carries this year for 1,026 yards and four TDs. The lack of touchdown numbers had more to do with no passing game…Rajion Neal quietly had a great season for Tennessee, and he was the offense this year. The Vols got very little production from the passing game, and Neal still rushed for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs, averaging over five yards per carry.
No. 2 option
9. Kenyan Drake, Alabama (SO)
10. Terrance Magee, LSU (JR)
Kenyan Drake was Alabama’s spark plug during 2013. Yes, TJ Yeldon was the featured back, but Drake was a nice changeup. Drake’s absence in the Sugar Bowl gave way to Henry’s emergence, though. Drake rushed for 694 yards and eight TDs, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. He’s faster than Yeldon, but maybe he doesn’t ooze with talent like Yeldon, nor is he the total package like Yeldon…Terrance Magee quietly became LSU’s No. 2 back behind Hill, and Magee was the versatile back Les Miles and Cam Cameron love on their offensive team. Magee rushed for 626 yards and eight TDs, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. It’s hard to justify taking the ball out of Hill’s hands, but Magee proved he’s worthy of carries.
Photo Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports