Category Archives: Running Backs

College Football: Week 1 Wisconsin at USF

#8 Wisconsin Badgers (0-0) vs University of South Florida Bulls (0-0)

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WISCONSIN BADGERS | BIG 10 CONFERENCE

Coach: Paul Chryst

Wisconsin Players to watch:

Junior RB Jonathan Taylor (5-11/219)

Jonathan Taylor rushed for 2,194 yards last year.

Taylor was named a 2018 All-American and the Doak Walker Award winner – given to the best running back in the nation. In two seasons at Wisconsin, Taylor has already run for over 4,000 yards. With junior, Jack Coan, winning the quarterback battle in the spring, expect to see a heavy dose of Taylor early in the season.

**Sophomore TE Jake Ferguson (6-5/250)

Last season, Ferguson was a pleasant surprise in an offense that struggled to consistently move the ball through the air. He caught at least one pass in all 13 games and finished as the team’s second-leading receiver with 36 receptions for 456 yards and four touchdowns.

During the offseason, Ferguson bulked up to 250. He’s counting on the added weight to improve his effectiveness as a blocker without compromising his speed as a route-runner.

*Junior OC Tyler Biadasz (6-3/322)

Last year, Biadasz was considered by many to be the best player on an offensive line that saw David Edwards go to the L.A. Rams; Michael Deiter was drafted by the Miami Dolphins; and Beau Benzschawel sign with the Detriot Lions as an UDFA. Biadasz will be looking to take home the Rimington Trophy in 2019.

***Sophomore ILB Jack Sanborn (6-2/232)

Wisconsin knows how to turn out pro-ready linebackers. Last year, Wisconson sent T.J. Edwards, Andrew Van Ginkel and Ryan Connelly to the next level. Sanborn played in 11 games last year as a true freshman. This year, he will be expected to fill the shoes of those who played before him. Wisconsin’s highest rated recruit of a year ago, Sanborn should post 80-100 tackles in 2019.

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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS | AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Coach: Charlie Strong

USF Players to watch:

Senior RB Jordan Cronkrite (5-11/204)

Cronkrite rushed for 302 yards against UMass in 2019.
Photo: Athlon Sports

The former Florida transfer was on a roll late in the 2018 season with five consecutive 100+yard efforts. Playing behind what looks to be an improved offensive line, Cronkrite hopes to match, or better, his 6.1 yards per carry from last year. With OC Kerwin Bell’s “Play fast, score fast” offense, Cronkrite could put up double digits in the end zone too.

Senior QB Blake Barnett (6-5/217)

Barnett, originally signed with Alabama, is a transfer from Arizona State. With one year under his belt in South Florida, he should post better numbers in 2019. At USF last year, Barnett completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,710 yards, 12 touchdowns; and he ran for 301 yards and eight touchdowns. With a new OC in town, look for a healthy Barnett to put up ridiculous numbers.

Senior RT Marcus Norman (6-6/305)

Two-time All-AAC Marcus Norman will anchor an offensive line that is much improved from last year’s unit. Norman is a seasoned veteran in the trenches, he enters the 2019 season with 34 consecutive starts. The Sebastian product has shown his skills in the classroom as well, having been named to the AAC All-Academic Team twice. He has already graduated with a degree in Information Security and is currently working on his master’s.

*Junior CB Mike Hampton (6-1/185)

All-conference honorable mention cornerback Mike Hampton (Tampa) shined as a sophomore in his first year as a starter, ranking ninth nationally with 18 passes defended (1.4 per game). He also posted posted 16 pass breakups, which stand as the second-most in USF history; he tied for second on the team with two interceptions; totaled 43 tackles (35 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, and one sack.

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Raymond James Stadium – Grass
August 30 | Tampa, Florida

Running Backs: Final Position Rankings

2019 NFL Draft:  Top Ranked RBs

There isn’t a lot of top-end speed in this class. There’s not a lot of bruising runners either. This seems like a very average overall class. None sticks out as particularly special, there’s no star player in this group. However, for the lack for top-end talent, this class is fairly solid all the way down the list. The player selected in the fifth round has about the same chance to make a team as the player selected in the second round.

Jacobs came on strong in the big games when it mattered most.
Photo: John David Mercer/USATODAYSports

1. Josh Jacobs, Alabama, 5-10/220

Jacobs became Alabama’s go-to all-around back. They used him as a return man, a slot receiver, and running back used in a variety of ways. Shows good vision, balance, and decision making when running the ball.

2. Miles Sanders, Penn State, 5-11/211

A protégé of Saquon Barkley, Sanders has worked diligently over the past year to become stronger, quicker, faster, and just overall better. His workout at the NFL Scouting Combine, prove he can do what he sets his mind to accomplish. North-South runner that spring it from between the tackles. Has experience as a return man. Has good upside. Needs to be a better blocker.

3. Darrell Henderson, Memphis, 5-8/208

Henderson averaged, something like, 8 yards per carry over his career at Memphis. That’s just crazy. Henderson doesn’t have great speed, but he is fast enough. His real strength is his vision, his ability to read blocks and leverage his angles.

4. Damien Harris, Alabama, 5-10/216

Harris was Alabama’s workhorse. He’s the big powerful back that you can pound the ball with. Has good vision, trusts his eyes and takes what is given. Also has the ability to catch it out of the backfield. He’d fit best with a team that likes to establish the run.

5. Dexter Williams, Notre Dame, 5-11/212

Williams has good footwork, is patient as he presses to the line, trusts his eyes, and then exploded. Good cut-back runner, smooth acceleration, takes what is given.

6. David Montgomery, Iowa State, 5-10/222

Montgomery is shifty and has excellent vision. He won’t have breakaway speed at the next level. So, he’s in the mold of a Matt Forte or Kareem Hunt – both productive NFL players. Did not test well, only had a 4.63 forty and 28.5 vertical. He’s patients and follows his blocks, but doesn’t always make the best decision on where to go with the ball.

7. Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic, 5-7/203

Singletary is a touchdown scoring machine. He crossed the goal line 67 times during his career – mostly do to his shifty moves. Shows good balance upon contact and has the ability to plant his foot and change direction. Played inferior competition and has 765 plays from scrimmage. His best asset is his quickness.

8. Ryquell Armstead, Temple, 5-11/220

Armstead has been getting more and more attention since the season ended. He had a good week at the Senior Bowl, and then ran a 4.45 forty at 220 pounds at the Combine. Armstead’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is helping his cause.

9. Travis Homer, Florida, 5-10/201

Miami’s Travis Homer is another running back that helped himself at the Combine with a good outing. He ran a 4.48 with a 39.5 vertical and 130 broad jump.

10. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State, 5-10/198

Played in an RPO offense, so he’ll fit right in with the modern NFL. Hill has plenty of speed and accelerates on the dime. Good balance and elusive. Excellent lower body strength to shed tackles and fight for extra yards, despite being under 200 pounds.

11. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M, 5-8/206

Williams has been quietly moving up draft boards. He has good vision and lateral agility, finds the hole and burst through it. He has outstanding balance and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder. Scored 19 touchdowns last year, one being for 93 yards.

12. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma, 6-0/224

Anderson doesn’t waste any motion, he goes straight to the hole. Has vision to see crease, gets skinny, and slide out the other side. Good feet in space. Very good in pass protection. Has missed a lot of time due to injury – medical will have to check out.

OTHER PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  1. Bryce Love, Stanford, 5-9/200
  2. Alex Barnes, Kansas State, 6-0/226
  3. Karan Higdon, Michigan, 5-9/206
  4. Kerrith Whyte, Florida Atlantic, 5-10/200
  5. L.J. Scott, Michigan State, 6-0/227
  6. Alexander Mattison, Boise State, 5-11/221
  7. Mike Weber, Ohio State, 5-11/212
  8. Divine Ozigbo, Nebraska, 5-11/222
  9. Myles Gaskin, Washington, 5-9/205
  10. Jordan Scarlett, Florida, 5-11/208
  11. Benny Snell, Kentucky, 5-10/223
  12. Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh, 6-1/228
  13. Patrick Laird, California, 5-11/205
  14. Tony Pollard, Memphis, 6-0/210
  15. Darwin Thompson, Utah State, 5-8/190
  16. Jordan Ellis, Virginia, 5-9/225
  17. Jalin Moore, Appalachian State, 5-10/212
  18. Wes Hills, Slippery Rock, 6-1/218
  19. Jon Hillman, Rutgers, 5-11/216
  20. David Hamm, McNeese State, 6-0/222
  21. James Washington, Washington State, 5-9/197
  22. Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh, 5-11/220
  23. Damarea Crockett, Missouri, 5-10/224
  24. Nico Evans, Wyoming, 5-9/199
  25. Ryan Fulse, Wagner 5-11/195
  26. Matt Colburn II, Wake Forest, 5-7/206
  27. Lexington Thomas, UNLV, 5-8/175
  28. Marquis Young, UMass, 6-1/210
  29. Bruce Anderson, No. Dakota State, 5-11/211
  30. Nick Brossette, LSU, 5-11/209

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Team Needs:

AZ | SF | NYJ | OAK | TB | NYG | JAX | DET | BUF | DEN | CIN | GB | MIA | ATL | WASH | CAR | CLE | MIN | TEN | PIT | SEA | BALT | HOU | CHI | PHI | IND | DAL | LAC | KC | NO | LAR | NE

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The 2019 NFL Draft will be held Thursday-Saturday, April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.

Cure Bowl – Dec 15

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ CaJuns (7-6)  vs  Tulane Green Wave (6-6)

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LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE RAGIN’ CAJUNS  |  SUN BELT CONFERENCE

Coach:  Billy Napier

Louisiana-Lafayette Players to watch:

**Sophomore RB Trey Ragas  (5-11/227)

TREY RAGAS IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST GRADED RB IN NATION
Photo: Athlon

A native of New Orleans, Ragas led the Sun Belt Conference with 1,141 rushing yards in 2018, a majority of which have come after contact, and 8 touchdowns.  The 5-foot-11, 227-pound Ragas rushed for 813 yards and 9 touchdowns as a freshman in 2017.

*Junior WR Ja’Marcus Bradley  (6-1/195)

Bradley has pulled in 10 receiving touchdowns this year.  He has 38 receptions for 557 yards, that’s almost 15 yards per catch.  He was one of the most valuable players on the 2018 Ragin’ Cajuns team.

Senior Safety Corey Turner  (6-1/204)

Turner emerged this year as a clear leader in Louisiana’s secondary.  He’s an excellent communicator that brings a physical skill set to the game. 

*Junior DE Bennie Higgins  (6-0/266)

At left end Bennie Higgins is 266 lbs edge-rusher who is tasked with playing a two-way go in the pass rush.  It’s his job to manipulate passing lanes to force QB into hesitation.  The defense is designed to spill the run from the middle to the edges — where Higgins wraps them up.

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TULANE GREEN WAVE  |  AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Coach:  Willie Fritz

Tulane Green  Wave Players to  Watch:

**Sophomore DE Patrick Johnson (6-2/256)

  Tulane’s Patrick Johnson celebrates after creating havoc off the edge.     
Photo: Tulane Athletics

Johnson has had breakout sophomore campaign where he finished with 10.0 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and 46 tackles. His 10.0 sacks are tied for ninth nationally and are the most among all sophomores nationally. 

Senior WLB Zachery Harris  (6-0/225)

Harris, a New Orleans native, totaled a single-season career-best 87 tackles. His 87 tackles also led the team and ranked 10th in the AAC. His 10.5 tackles for loss ranked second on the squad. Harris totaled 10 or more tackles in three games this season and had 5 tackles for loss.

Senior CB Donnie Lewis  (6-0/195)

As a senior in 2018, Lewis established himself as one of the league’s best cornerbacks. Lewis led the AAC and ranked third nationally in passes defended, averaging 1.7 per game. He also had a team-leading three interceptions and ranked fifth on the team in tackles with 54. 

Senior FS Roderic Teamer  (6-0/210)

Another New Orleans native, Teamer tied his single-season high for tackles with 67. He finished second on the team in tackles, had six pass breakups and one interception. He finished with 10 or more tackles twice and was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in the East Carolina game.

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AutoNation Cure Bowl
Tulane 41, Louisiana 24

New Mexico Bowl – Dec 15

North Texas Mean Green (9-3)  vs  #23 Utah State Aggies (10-2)

NORTH TEXAS  |  CONFERENCE USA

Coach:  Seth Littrell

North Texas Players to watch: 

Senior LB E.J. Ejiya (6-3/230)

No. Texas Lineback E.J. Ejiya
Photo: No Texas Athletics

Ejiya ranks fourth nationally in tackles for loss with 23.0 and leads the Mean Green in sacks with 9.0, which ranks fourth in C-USA. His 113 total tackles are also fourth most in the conference. 

* Junior QB  Mason Fine (5-1/180)

Fine was name CUSA Offensive Player of the Year for the 2nd year in a row.  He was also a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Awards.  He was on watch lists for the Manning and Walter Camp Awards.  He was voted 2nd Team All-CUSA.

**Sophomore RB DeAndre Torrey  (5-7/186)

Torrey has been a touchdown machine for the Mean Green and ranks sixth in FBS in total touchdowns with 17. He is averaging 5.9 yards per carry, with 161 attempts for 942 yards and 14 rushing scores, while also providing a dynamic presence as a receiver out of the backfield. 

*Junior WR Rico Bussey, Jr. (6-2/208)

Bussey, Jr. leads the Mean Green in every major receiving category and is among the nation’s most productive receivers. 

Senior CB Kemon Hall (5-11/190)

Hall ranks third in FBS in passes defended (1.7 per game) and has posted five interceptions, two of which he has brought back for touchdowns

Senior CB  Nate Brooks  (6-0/192)

Brooks has 61 tackles, 3.0 of which are for loss, nine pass break-ups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry in 12 starts. Brooks has helped lead a ball-hawking group for North Texas, who have totaled 17 interceptions, which ranks fifth in FBS.

*Junior DE LaDarius Hamilton  (6-3/256)

Hamilton has been a force from his defensive end position for the Mean Green and is second on the team in sacks with 6.5 and 10.0 tackles for loss.

Senior PK Cole Hedlund  (5-10/166)

Hedlund was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award and is 19 of 22 on field goals, including a perfect 2 of 2 from 50-plus yards. 

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UTAH STATE AGGIES | MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

Interim Coach:  Frank Maile

Utah State Players to watch:

*Junior TE Dax Raymond  (6-5/245)

  Utah State TE Dax Raymond has accepted an invite the the Reese Senior Bowl.
Photo:  Salt Lake Tribune

Despite missing four games this year with a broken hand, Raymond earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors after catching 25 passes for 335 yards (13.4 ypc) and two touchdowns. For his career, he has caught 70 passes for 863 yards (12.3 ypc) and three TDs.

**Sophomore LB David Woodward (6-2/230)

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Woodward started all 11 games he played in — ranking first in the Mountain West and 10th in the nation with 124 tackles (11.3 pg). He is also fifth in the conference in tackles for loss with 12.5 (1.1 pg) and ninth in sacks with 5.0.

**Sophomore WR/RS Savon Scarver  (5-11/185)

Scarver has returned 21 kickoffs for 719 yards, including four returns of 50-or-more yards. His two kickoff returns for touchdowns (100 yards vs. New Mexico State and 96 yards at Wyoming) rank as the second-most in a single-season in school history, behind Kevin Robinson (three in 2007).

**Sophomore QB Jordan Love  (6-4/220)

Sophomore QB Jordan Love is 11th in the nation in points responsible for with 204 (17.0 pg); ninth in the nation in passing touchdowns with 28 (2.3 pg); 12th in the nation in passing efficiency (159.9); 21st in the nation in completion percentage (.658);18th in the nation in passing (267.3 ypg); 27th in the nation in completions (20.5 pg), and fifth in the MW and 28th in the nation in total offense (272.3 ypg).

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New Mexico Bowl Presented by Progressive
Utah State 52, North Texas 13