We at Saturday Down South have dubbed 2014 the “Year of the Running Back.”  You’ve got star-studded named such as Todd Gurley, TJ Yeldon, Mike Davis and Derrick Henry along with heralded newcomers such as Leonard Fournette.  Coaches in the SEC always seem to reload at the running back position, which is why this year should showcase plenty of 1,000-yard backs.  We predicted potential 3,000-yard passers and 1,000-yard receivers. Now, we move to the workhorses.

Running back is the position with the most depth in the SEC and easily the most talent. Heading into Week One of the 2014 season, there are three running backs who will tally 1,000-yard seasons in Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and South Carolina’s Mike Davis, along with a host of others who will be impact players come game time. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Todd Gurley had an injury-marred 2013 and still almost eclipsed 1,000 yards. Gurley is the SEC’s most legitimate Heisman contender and should return to 2012 form when he rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns on 222 carries. Reports say wingman Keith Marshall is healthy heading into fall camp, giving Mark Richt a great second option when Gurley needs a break.

T.J. Yeldon is only the third back in SEC history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as a freshman and sophomore and should do much of the same as a junior. With a newcomer at quarterback in either Jacob Coker or Blake Sims, expect Lane Kiffen to lean on his duo of Yeldon and Henry, at least early in the season. Despite what he’s already accomplished, Yeldon’s name still doesn’t seem to be mentioned much, but if Alabama has a good year, don’t be surprised to hear his name in the Heisman talk.

Coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,183 yards, Mike Davis is poised to cement his legacy in Columbia in 2014. Davis, who is almost certain to break a long one each time out, isn’t quite the runner Marcus Lattimore was, but if he gets in open space or behind the defense, you’re never going to catch him.  If South Carolina is going to win the East and possibly an SEC Championship, Davis is going to have another banner year.

Best chance to reach 1,000 yards:

  • Todd Gurley, Georgia
  • T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
  • Mike Davis, South Carolina

Should come close:

  • Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn
  • Derrick Henry, Alabama
  • Alex Collins, Arkansas
  • Kelvin Taylor, Florida

Too tough a feat?

  • Terrance Magee, LSU
  • Marlin Lane, Tennessee
  • Jonathan Williams, Arkansas