The SEC was loaded at the tailback position in 2014, and it should remain that way in 2015 with five of the seven tailbacks to rush for 1,000 yards a year ago back for another year.

Most every team in the SEC has a go-to back in place for the fall, and many have two or more tailbacks capable of contributing this season should their respective offenses allow for it. With that in mind, here are our top 5 SEC tailback tandems as we move past spring ball and look ahead to the 2015 season.


Collins and Williams both ran for 1,000 yards a year ago, and it’s fair to expect similar results from the duo in 2015. Bret Bielema has a history of yielding multiple 1,000-yard rushers in the same season, doing so more than once as the head coach at Wisconsin, including one year when his Badgers were three yards shy of producing three 1,000-yard runners. Furthermore, Arkansas returns much of its offensive line depth from last season in addition to veteran¬†starting quarterback Brandon Allen, which should allow both Collins and Williams to maintain their productivity against some menacing defenses throughout the conference.


Gus Malzahn’s spread rushing attack has produced the SEC’s leading rusher each of the last two seasons (Tre Mason followed by Cameron Artis-Payne). So it’s fair to expect that, even with Jeremy Johnson replacing Nick Marshall at quarterback, the Tigers will remain effective in the run game moving forward. Thomas is a former five-star signee from the class of 2014 who got his feet wet last year behind Artis-Payne and Corey Grant (since graduated), and he should be ready to carry a heavy workload this fall. Robinson is a former Alabama signee and junior college transfer, and his tremendous upside and JUCO¬†experience should work in his favor as he transitions back into the SEC. Together these two should thrive, as neither has to assume a full-time starting role in their first seasons as high-impact tailbacks, and in Malzahn’s system, their explosiveness should produce some gaudy numbers once again.


Hurd missed most of the spring with injuries, but he is expected to be completely healthy by the Vols’ season opener in September. He was one of the SEC’s finest freshman at any position a year ago, rushing for 899 yard and five touchdowns, including four 100-yard games (three against SEC foes and the fourth in a bowl win over Iowa). He’ll be complemented by Kamara, the Vols’ only healthy scholarship back for much of the spring. Kamara was given ample opportunity to familiarize himself with new OC Mike DeBord’s offense, and as one of the top junior college backs in the nation a year ago, he showed how effective he can be with a regular workload. Hurd and Kamara should split carries behind the Vols’ offensive line, which remains in a rebuilding phase after a rough 2014 season, and the two backs should both contend for at least 800 yards apiece, perhaps more depending on the play of quarterback Joshua Dobbs in his first full season as a starter.


Chubb was the SEC’s greatest discovery a year ago, starting eight games in place of Todd Gurley who was either suspended or injured for much of last season. He ran for at least 100 yards in all eight starts, and finished second in the SEC in rushing despite starting fewer games than any other player ranked in the top 10 in the conference. He can run with power between the tackles and with agility on the perimeter, and he’s as difficult to tackle as any player in the SEC. Behind him is fellow rising sophomore Sony Michel, a smaller, more elusive tailback whose skill set complements Chubb’s perfectly. It’s safe to assume Chubb will remain a workhorse in Brian Schottenheimer’s run-dependent offense, but in order to limit the wear and tear on his body expect Michel to pick up some of the slack, keeping opposing defenses off balance behind one of the SEC’s most dominant and experienced offensive lines.


Drake is returning from a nasty ankle injury that cut his 2014 season short, while Henry returns as one of the SEC’s most physically imposing backs in 2015. Much of this duo’s success hinges on how effectively Drake can return from injury, but even if he can’t, another five-star prospect like freshman Damien Harris could easily step in a fill Drake’s role in the Tide’s tailback tandem. Regardless, if Henry runs as effectively and powerfully between the tackles as many expect this fall, it’ll open up plenty of opportunities for the other back in the tandem to attack defenses on the edges, and both backs should improve the Tide’s play-action game for whoever the first-time starter at quarterback turns out to be this fall. A shaky passing game and rebuilding offensive line will be hurdles to overcome, but Saban’s track record of producing NFL-caliber tailbacks at Alabama speaks for itself, and it should continue talking this fall in the form of Henry and Drake.