Creating the perfect SEC running back for 2017
The SEC returns some of the best running backs in the country in 2017. From 2016 rushing champ Derrius Guice at LSU to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel at Georgia, the conference boasts some of the biggest names at the position.
Add in Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb, Mizzou’s Damarea Crockett, Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough, Arkansas’ Rawleigh Williams III, Florida’s Jordan Scarlett, Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway and a host of other talented runners, and it’s clear there will be no shortage of excitement on the ground next season.
However, all of those talented runners can’t be included in our perfect SEC running back, so only the best of the best make the cut.
Here are the players whose elite skills we’d pick if we had to create the perfect runner for the 2017 season:
Legs: Derrius Guice, LSU
Though Guice entered the 2016 season as the expected backup to Leonard Fournette, he ended up leading the SEC in rushing yards.
Guice amassed 1,387 yards on the ground, but what was even more impressive is that he did it with only 183 attempts — the eighth-most carries among SEC runners. That was good for an average of 7.6 yards per carry — the best mark for any runner with more than 50 carries.
A lot of Guice’s success was due to his blinding speed and ability to keep his legs moving in traffic. At 5-11 and 212 pounds, Guice isn’t the biggest back in the conference, but his legs are powerful and speedy, making him a frightening sight for opposing defenses.
Body: Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
One look at Scarbrough and you’ll know why he’s the perfect choice for our perfect running back’s body. Standing 6-2 and weighing 228 pounds, Scarbrough is a nightmare for Alabama opponents.
Yes, the Crimson Tide star has durability issues and has suffered through several unfortunate leg injuries in his football career, but we’re not using his legs, as you can see above.
When it comes to power generated above the waist, Scarbrough is the clear choice — just look at his performances in the SEC Championship Game, Peach Bowl and National Championship Game for proof.
He’s not afraid of contact and can also dish out a devastating stiff-arm when the occasion calls for it.
Hands: Sony Michel, Georgia
Other than Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara, who is heading off to the NFL, there weren’t many explosive pass catchers coming out of SEC backfields.
However, Michel put together a decent year in the receiving game even while dealing with a true freshman quarterback in Jacob Eason and splitting snaps with fellow star RB Nick Chubb.
Michel caught 22 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs last year. As Eason continues to grow as a passer and gains more experience with the Georgia offense, Michel should have an even better year in the passing game in 2017.
Eyes: Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Webb isn’t as big as the rest of the guys on this list and doesn’t play behind 4- and 5-star offensive linemen like the other backs, either, so what he’s done the past three years at Vanderbilt is even more impressive.
Especially when everybody knew who was getting the ball.
Returning for his senior year in 2017, Webb knows what to do when he gets his hands on it, even when every opposing defense is specifically trying to limit him.
Webb is the best at finding holes against eight-man boxes, so having his vision for our perfect running back is a no-brainer.
Now that we’ve constructed our perfect running back, we want to arm him with two attributes every elite back possesses: speed and the ability to make defenders miss.
Speed: Jordan Scarlett, Florida
Scarlett clocked a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at The Openings in 2015, so that kind of elite speed will be useful for our perfect back.
Sharing carries early, he finished with 889 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. As he works his way into a bigger role in 2017, his speed should lead to even more yards if he can stay healthy.
Make you miss: Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
Williams can plant and cut to break through the defensive line, but he specializes in winning one-on-one matchups with the secondary.
Williams had 5 runs of 40 or more yards as a freshman; Guice was the only SEC running back with more. He put all of it together during an 89-yard touchdown run against Auburn, which inspired this:
"And now we go live to Texas A&M vs Auburn & Trayveon Williams gets the hand-off and…" pic.twitter.com/323fiqHbqj
— Zach Taylor (@ZachTaylorSport) September 18, 2016
Want more evidence? Just check out this highlight video.