A way too early look at the top running backs in the SEC in 2018
Some of the top running backs in the SEC have exhausted their eligibility. Some have chosen to enter the NFL Draft as underclassmen and others could follow suit.
Some highly touted youngsters have been waiting in the wings and others are arriving on the scene.
Players come and go every year, but one thing is certain: The SEC will be loaded again with top-flight running backs in 2018. Here’s one projection of who the top ones will be:
10) Anthony Grant, Tennessee
New Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt will look to run the ball effectively as a linchpin to his rebuilding project. Grant is the No. 25 running back prospect and is the player most likely to inherit the top runner role that John Kelly vacated by heading early to the NFL.
9) Zamir White, Georgia
The Bulldogs have to say goodbye to seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but they’re still loaded at running back. It figures to be a committee approach again, but as the No. 1 running back prospect in the country, White should have a prominent role on that committee.
8) Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
He was poised to be the Gamecocks’ leading rusher as a sophomore before fracturing his fibula early in the 2017 season. If he can stay healthy in 2018, he should put up the big numbers that were anticipated this season.
7) Chris Curry, LSU
With Derrius Guice presumably heading to the NFL, the job as LSU’s top rusher is wide open. Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are returning, but the Tigers like to use multiple backs, creating an opportunity for Curry, the No. 14 running back prospect, to make a splash right away.
6) Najee Harris, Alabama
It remains to be seen what juniors Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough will do after the CFP championship game, but assuming at least one of them heads to the NFL, Najee Harris will be ready to step in as a big part of the Tide’s multi-back rotation.
5) Asa Martin, Auburn
The Tigers had the SEC’s leading rusher (and Offensive Player of the Year) this season, but Kerryon Johnson is skipping his senior year to move on to the NFL, as is Kamryn Pettway. But coach Gus Malzahn isn’t going to be without a top-flight rusher. Martin, the No. 16 running back prospect, will be competing with a few returnees for the top spot.
4) D’Andre Swift, Georgia
With White and the No. 6 running back prospect in James Cook, the Bulldogs have the top two freshman running back prospects in the SEC, but Swift figures to be the leader of this very talented pack.
3) Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
It’ll be a year of transition for the Bulldogs with Joe Moorhead taking over as head coach, but there will be familiarity as quarterback Nick Fitzgerald returns from injury and Williams rejoins him in the backfield for a productive one-two punch on the ground.
2) Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
The focus will be on new coach Jimbo Fisher, but Williams is one of the top returning rushers in the league and he’ll provide a good starting point for Fisher on offense.
1) Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
He’s the only back in Wildcats history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and there’s every reason to believe he will make it three in a row as a junior. Snell was the top SEC rusher during the regular season in 2017, and he’s poised for a repeat in 2018.