Top 25 College Football Running Backs of 2019

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Joe Broback

Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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We’re only on Part 2 of our College Football Preseason Position Rankings, and we’ve reached arguably the most talented group. There’s plenty of NFL potential in the running backs, and many of them could be some of the best running backs in college football history. Let’s take a look at the Top 25.

OTHER POSITIONS: QB, WR, TE, C, G, OT, DE, DT, LB, CB, S

25. Lamical Perine, Florida

2018 Stats: Rushed 134 times for 826 yards (6.2 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Caught 13 passes for 170 yards (13.1 ypc) and one touchdown.

With Jordan Scarlett in the NFL, Perine takes over in the backfield. He doesn’t possess great speed, but utilizes his vision and patience to find a running lane. Defenders won’t take him down easily, because he takes hits well and drives his legs through contact well.

24. Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State

2018 Stats: Rushed 179 times for 1,187 yards (6.6 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Caught 12 passes for 87 yards (7.3 ypc) and one touchdown.

Once he took over for Jalin Moore, he never looked back. He rushed for over 1,100 yards last year, and this year should produce even more. Joining Zac Thomas in the backfield, App State’s rushing attack will gives teams plenty of issues.

23. Minnesota RB’s

2018 Stats: Rushed 366 times for 1,973 yards (5.4 ypc) and 14 touchdowns. Caught 12 passes for 133 yards (11.1 ypc).

Last year, Minnesota lost it’s top two running backs. Rodney Smith Jr. and Shannon Brooks both went down with injuries, but the running game remained in good hands. Mohamed Ibrahim and Bryce Williams proved their worth and produced most of the stats above. Now, they both might not see the field much in 2019 with Brooks and Smith back.

22. Reggie Corbin, Illinois

2018 Stats: Rushed 128 times for 1,085 yards (8.5 ypc) and nine touchdowns. Caught 16 times for 176 yards (11.0 ypc).

An Illinois player in the Top 25? Corbin’s arguably one of the best running backs that they’ve had since Rashard Mendenhall. Illinois’ offense relies on his production once again this year.

21. Joshua Kelley, UCLA

2018 Stats: Rushed 225 times for 1,243 yards (5.5 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Caught 27 passes for 193 yards (7.1 ypc).

Transfer from UC-Davis. Worked in a crowded backfield early in the season, and broke out in the second half of the season. Another back that relies on his vision and leg drive to find running lanes and embrace contact.

20. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

2018 Stats: Rushed 124 times for 740 yards (6.0 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Caught 22 passes for 229 yards (10.4 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Justice Hill is gone, and the path opens up for Hubbard. J.D. King’s transfer also means that Hubbard will be the man. His stats as a backup provide plenty of excitement for his role as a starter.

19. CJ Verdell/Travis Dye, Oregon

2018 Stats: Rushed 342 times for 1,757 yards (5.1 ypc) and 14 touchdowns. Caught 39 passes for 384 yards (9.8 ypc) and three touchdowns.

Two undersized Ducks running backs that make a huge impact? Sounds familiar. Verdell and Dye’s performance reminds me of LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner.

18. Larry Rountree III, Missouri

2018 Stats: Rushed 225 times for 1,216 yards (5.4 ypc) and 11 touchdowns. Caught 14 passes for 62 yards (4.4 ypc).

A slippery big back, which is a scary combination. Even if tacklers get a hand on him, good luck taking him down. The backfield is now his alone, and gets to work with Kelly Bryant.

17. Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis

2018 Stats: Rushed 208 times for 1,122 yards (5.4 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. Caught 17 passes for 197 yards (11.6 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Darrell Henderson took his talents to the NFL after nearly rushing for 2,000 yards. Even with the Tigers star, Taylor eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark. Now the job is his, and the AAC should be wary.

16. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

2018 Stats: Rushed 117 times for 734 yards (6.3 ypc) and four touchdowns. Caught 22 passes for 176 yards (8.0 ypc) and four touchdowns.

Another player that benefits from a less crowded backfield. Hill needs to work with a new quarterback, but Joe Moorhead’s offense should still be explosive.

15. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

2018 Stats: Rushed 146 times for 658 yards (4.5 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Caught 11 passes for 96 yards (8.7 ypc).

Undersized and extremely underrated. There’s not a tougher runner in the country, and defenses better bring it when they face him. He’s fast, quick, strong, and explosive. Look out for him in 2019.

14. Zack Moss, Utah

2018 Stats: Rushed 179 times for 1,096 yards (6.1 ypc) and 11 touchdowns. Caught eight passes for 50 yards (6.3 ypc) and one touchdown.

One of the most overlooked running backs in the country. Moss went to high school with quarterback Tyler Huntley and receiver Demari Simpkins. If he stays healthy, Utah should overachieve once again.

13. Michael Warren II, Cincinnati

2018 Stats: Rushed 244 times for 1,329 yards (5.4 ypc) and 19 touchdowns. Caught 25 passes for 232 yards (9.3 ypc) and one touchdown.

Warren II won’t run past you, but he has no problems running over anyone. Former starter Gerrid Doaks also returns to the backfield this year after being injured, so expect the Bearcats rushing attack to be lethal once again.

12. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

2018 Stats: Rushed 230 times for 1,053 yards (4.6 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. Caught 26 passes for 263 yards (10.1 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Saw a decrease in production last year, but won’t have to share the backfield with Mike Weber anymore. A Justin Fields-J.K. Dobbins combination gives the Buckeyes a dangerous combination.

11. Najee Harris, Alabama

2018 Stats: Rushed 117 times for 783 yards (6.7 ypc) with four touchdowns. Caught four passes for seven yards (1.8 ypc).

If you can’t find Harris on a football field, you’re not looking hard enough. He’s the biggest back in the country, and reminds some of Derrick Henry. What many don’t realize is how athletic he is, and he displays that ability frequently. Can he eclipse 1,000 yards this year? It might be tough with how loaded the passing attack will be for the Crimson Tide.

10. J.J. Taylor, Arizona

2018 Stats: Rushed 255 times for 1,434 yards (5.6 ypc) and six touchdowns. Caught 16 passes for 133 yards (8.3 ypc).

Definition of undersized. At 5’6″, 184 pounds, Taylor might be the smallest back in all of college football. Don’t take that for granted, however. Taylor brings plenty of pop in his small frame, and can take over any game.

9. Greg McCrae, UCF

2018 Stats: Rushed 133 times for 1,182 yards (8.9 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. Caught eight passes for 116 yards (14.5 ypc) and one touchdown.

Emerged as the go-to back last year, and added yet another fast weapon for the Knights offensively. He’s clearly the most complete back of the group, but Otis Anderson and Adrian Killins can also torch defenses.

8. Kennedy Brooks/Trey Sermon, Oklahoma

2018 Stats: Rushed 283 yards for 2,003 yards (7.1 ypc) and 25 touchdowns. Caught 22 passes for 238 yards (10.8 ypc).

After Rodney Anderson went down with an injury, Sermon and Brooks picked up where he left off. With all of the attention on the two consecutive Heisman Trophy winners, both running backs flew under the radar. Jalen Hurts comes in from Alabama, and will rely on Brooks and Sermon until he gets comfortable.

7. Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State

2018 Stats: Rushed 239 times for 1,380 yards (5.8 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Caught 25 passes for 147 yards (5.9 ypc).

Jefferson came out of nowhwere last year as a freshman. With Oregon State struggling, he gave fans something exciting to watch. Can he repeat in 2019? He had two games of 200+ yards watching and two games with four rushing touchdowns, but didn’t score a touchdown in the second half of the season.

6. A.J. Dillon, Boston College

2018 Stats: Rushed 227 times for 1,108 yards (4.9 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. Caught eight passes for 41 yards (5.1 ypc) and one touchdown.

Injuries limited his explosiveness, but Dillon still has it. At 250 pounds, there’s likely not a single person that wants to take him one-on-one. He’s a freight train with tree trunk legs that’s not fun to tackle.

5. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt

2018 Stats: Rushed 157 times for 1,244 yards (7.9 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Caught 13 passes for 170 yards (13.1 ypc) and two touchdowns.

First seven games: 495 yards and five touchdowns. last five games: 749 yards and seven touchdowns. He missed a couple games due to injury, so staying healthy remains the key to his success. Speed jumps out on tape, and he’s dangerous in the open field.

4. D’Andre Swift, Georgia

2018 Stats: Rushed 163 times for 1,049 yards (6.4 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. Caught 32 passes for 297 yards (9.3 ypc) and three touchdowns.

Most explosive player in college football. Swift makes great cuts to drop defenders, but can also run people over. If you miss him, he’s gone. If you do get to him, it’s still not easy to bring him down.

3. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State

2018 Stats: Rushed 300 times for 1,642 yards (5.5 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. Caught 35 passes for 263 yards (7.5 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Potential top NFL prospect next year. He has great patience to see running lanes, and hits the hole hard when it emerges. His jump cuts are lethal whether it’s setting up blocks or making a defender miss. Never gives up on any play, but sometimes that leads to fumbles.

2. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

2018 Stats: Rushed 307 times for 2,194 yards (7.1 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. Caught eight passes for 60 yards (7.5 ypc).

Averaged over seven yards per carry in seven games last year. Only had one game where he didn’t eclipsed 100 yards, but that game was a concern. His ball security will be watched closely, but Taylor might be the most complete back in the country.

1. Travis Etienne, Clemson

2018 Stats: Rushed 204 times for 1,658 yards (8.1 ypc) with 24 touchdowns. Caught 12 passes for 78 yards (6.5 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Etienne’s speed can’t be matched by any of the running backs in the country. Even while sharing the backfield with Tavien Feaster last year, Etienne was the man. Clemson’s offense must replace a some talent on the offensive line, but most of the skill positions return. Etienne looks to make a strong case for the Heisman Trophy, but will he get enough chances?

Others to Watch

Stevie Scott, Indiana: After rushing for 1,137 yards and 10 touchdowns, Scott gives the Hoosiers a big play threat.

Darius Bradwell, Tulane: Tulane’s offense shows great potential this year, and it all starts with Bradwell.

Moe Neal, Syracuse: No more Eric Dungey, but Neal returns after nearly rushing for 900 yards in 2018.

Cam Akers, Florida State: A down sophomore year after eclipsing 1,00 yards as a freshman, but could bounce back in 2019.

Keontay Ingram, Texas: Tre Watson is gone, and Ingram receives the large majority of carries this year.

Salvon Ahmed, Washington: Takes over for four year starter Myles Gaskin, and works with Georgia transfer Jacob Eason.

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