Preview 2010 - SEC Running Back Rankings
Kentucky RB Derrick Locke
Kentucky RB Derrick Locke
Posted May 27, 2010

Preview 2010 - Ranking the Top SEC Running Backs of 2010

Preview 2010 - SEC

The Top Running Backs

- SEC Skill Position Rankings
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Tight Ends | Kickers   

1. Mark Ingram, Jr. Alabama
With a special combination of speed, shiftiness, and power, the 5-10, 215-pounder cranked out 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns, along with 32 catches for 334 yards and three scores, on the way to becoming Alabama's first Heisman trophy winner. Others ran for more yards and others came up with more impressive stats, but Ingram's worth was his ability to come up big in the biggest of games and moments. For a team that relied on good defense, solid special teams, and a bruising running game, he was the sparkplug who made everything else go.

2. Trent Richardson, Soph. Alabama
At 5-11 and 220 pounds, all he needs is more of a chance after running for 751 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, while catching 16 passes for 126 yards as a true freshman. With his size and track star speed, for former star from the same Florida high school as Emmitt Smith would be in the rotation for an NFL right now if he was allowed. While he hasn't shown Ingram's flair for the dramatic and he hasn't been any sort of a workhorse, the skills are there to be special.

3. Derrick Locke, Sr. Kentucky
Locke was one of the nation's most underappreciated players last year. Coming off a blown out knee, he led the team with 907 rushing yards and six scores with three 100-yard games (including 126 yards against Auburn), he caught 31 passes for 284 yards and two scores, and he was one of the nation's top kickoff returners averaging 27.8 yards per kickoff return. The 5-9, 191-pound speedster is a phenomenal athlete who has persevered from the knee injury that was considered career-threatening, and while he might not be the All-America caliber long jumper he once was, he's a year removed from the injury and he should do even more.

4. Washaun Ealey, Soph. Georgia
Ealey wasn't Herschel Walker as a true freshman, but that's how big a recruit he was for the program (at least according to some overzealous evaluators). The 5-11, 205-pounder got rolling as the season went on to finish with a team-leading 717 yards and three touchdowns after not playing in the first four games. He ripped up Georgia Tech for 183 yards and ran for 70 yards or more in each of his final seven games and is poised and ready to do far more behind a veteran line. A flash of lightning, he ran for a Georgia state high school record 133 career touchdowns with 49 in his senior year. Now he's about to be the next great Bulldog running back.

5. Jeff Demps, Jr. Florida

It's not really a bad thing when your top running back misses time in the offseason because he's too good a sprinter for the track team. The 5-8, 184-pound Demps had his niche in the Gator offense over the last two years as a flash of lightning who occasionally changed games with the big play. While he has a career average of 7.6 yards per carry, he has never carried the ball more than 16 times in a game and he isn't any sort of a workhorse. There's a thought that he could grow into a Percy Harvin-like playmaker, being used more in a variety of ways, but he's not the same sort of receiver. Now, with Tim Tebow gone, it'll be up to Demps to add more production to the running game.

6. Onterio McCalebb, Soph. Auburn
The superstar recruit of last year, the 5-10, 165-pound McCalebb made a big splash early on finishing second on the team with 565 yards and four touchdowns, but he was kept under wraps as the season went on with the emergence of Ben Tate as a star. He ran for 148 yards and a score in the opener against Louisiana Tech and 114 yards and a touchdown against Mississippi State in the first two games, but he suffered an ankle injury and wasn't quite right the rest of the way. Not all that big, he's not going to power over anyone, but the star that many considered to be the nation's No. 1 running back recruit last year should put up huge numbers as part of the rotation.

7. Warren Norman, Soph. Vanderbilt
It's a big deal whenever anyone does something better than Herschel Walker, and Norman was able to better the former Georgia superstar's record for the most total yards as an SEC freshman. The 5-10, 192-pound speedster led the team with 783 yards and three touchdowns, caught 19 passes for 108 yards and a score, and was a whale of a kickoff returner cranking out 1,050 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 26.2 yards per carry. He wasn't a workhorse only carrying the ball more than 15 times once, but he was always productive with the ball in his hands averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

8. Caleb King, Jr. Georgia
Is King ever going to be right? There were some rumblings a few years ago that he was the team's most talented back, even with Knowshon Moreno running wild, but he has yet to put it all together. He looks the part with 5-11, 210-pound size and a great blend of speed and quickness, but he has been underwhelming considering he was a superstar recruit. He finished second on the team with 594 yards and seven scores, but 166 of his yards came against Georgia Tech. Now he'll combine with Ealey to carry the workload, but there might be times when he becomes the hot back and blows up.

9. Tauren Poole, Jr. Tennessee
Poole has the potential to be one of the SEC's breakout stars. Kept under wraps by the old regime, the 5-11, 213-pound speedster was the two-time Georgia high school player of the year after running for 5,413 career yards, and he looked the part this offseason when he got his chance to take over the ground game. He only ran for 85 yards last year, with 62 coming in the opener against Western Kentucky, and without a lot of tread on the tires, he should be fresh and ready to carry the attack.

10. Brandon Bolden, Jr. Ole Miss
Ole Miss has a good group of backs to feed, but Bolden is the best of the bunch. The 5-11, 220-pounder finished second on the team with 614 yards and four touchdowns, but he did a lot of the dirty work early on as the coaching staff was saving Dexter McCluster for a rainy day. The star of the 2009 Cotton Bowl, with 101 yards and a score in the win over Texas Tech, Bolden was expected to grow into a more dangerous back last season but he only had one 100-yard game (Southeast Louisiana) and two of his four scores came in a blowout over Tennessee. Able to be used as a receiver, he finished third on the team with 20 catches for 209 yards and a score; he'll be a nice safety valve.

11. Kenny Miles, Soph. South Carolina
Miles is the team's leading returning rusher gaining 626 yards and a touchdown with a 5.4 yard-per-carry average. He wasn't really a workhorse, with 18 carries his biggest workload, and he cranked out three 100-yard days. However, he disappeared at times failing to get a carry in the first two games and didn't get the ball against Florida late in the year. At 5-9 and 187 yards he's small and quick, but he'll likely be more of a specialist back with Marcus Lattimore the star of the backfield.

12. Marcus Lattimore, Fr. South Carolina
There's plenty of experience returning in the backfield, but all the veterans might have to politely step aside for the true freshman, arguably the nation's top running back recruit with all the speed, quickness, and talent to be a special playmaker from Day One. At 5-11 and 215 pounds he has nice size and plenty of production running for 6,375 yards and 104 touchdowns in high school, and he has good enough hands to be used as a receiver, too. There's a chance he could be the focal point of the attack from the moment he steps on the field.