Preview 2010 - C-USA Running Back Rankings
UCF RB Brynn Harvey
Preview 2010 - Ranking the Top Conference USA Running Backs
Preview 2010 - C-USA
The Top Running Backs
- C-USA Skill Position Rankings
1. Donald Buckram, Sr. UTEP
The singular bright spot in last year's 4-8 campaign was the improbable eruption of the 5-10, 195-pound senior into a contender for national awards. Oft-injured throughout his career, he finally put it all together for a dozen games, rushing for a school-record 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns on 259 carries. He also added 30 catches for 453 yards and three scores to lead the country in yards from scrimmage. One of the fastest players in El Paso, he's a slasher, who isn't afraid to run between the tackles and does a surprisingly nice job of bouncing off tacklers.
2. Brynn Harvey, Jr. UCF
Harvey blossomed in 2009, turning his first 1,000-yard season into All-Conference USA honorable mention recognition. The workhorse of the offense, he handled 261 carries for 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns, adding 14 catches for 83 yards. A physical 6-1, 207-pounder, with good vision, he has a knack for moving the pile, especially near the goal line.
3. Bryce Beall, Jr. Houston
Beall won the honor in 2008, but had to share the backfield with Charles Sims a year ago. Both will get plenty of snaps again this fall. At 5-11 and 209 pounds, he's the bigger and more physical of the two backs, yet also has the soft hands and great vision to be fully functional in this offense. In a more complimentary role than his debut, he ran for 670 yards and seven touchdowns on 139 carries, adding 32 carries for 311 yards and three touchdowns.
4. Martin Ward, Soph. Marshall
The decision of Darius Marshall to leave early for the NFL was a costly one for the Herd offense, which will miss its 1,000-yard rusher. It's a good thing the 5-9, 201-pound sophomore got a taste of action late last year because his role is about to explode. Most of his 393 yards and three scores on 82 carries and MVP honors in the bowl game came in the final three games, when Marshall was unavailable. A top 2008 recruit, who had offers from SEC, Big East, ACC, and Big Ten schools, he runs low to the ground and with a noticeable sense of purpose. Don't be shocked if the Herd running game doesn't skip a beat with No. 29 as the new workhorse.
5. Charles Sims, Soph. Houston
Sims was last year's edition, rushing for 698 yards and nine scores on 132 carries and catching 70 passes for 759 yards and a score. A 6-0, 195-pounder, with tremendous quickness, the Cougars will do whatever is necessary to create mismatches, using him as a traditional back or flipping him the ball in the flat, where he can get in space and knife through the defense.
6. Jonathan Williams, Sr. East Carolina
The dismissal of Brandon Jackson leaves the Pirates without last year's top two rushers, including inspirational 1,000-yard back Dominique Lindsay. Although the running game won't be as prominent as the past, an expanded role is expected for the 6-1, 196-pound senior. His career has been marred by off-field issues and untapped potential, but he does have experience, rushing 111 times for 568 yards and six touchdowns in 23 career games. If he keeps his nose clean, he's the type of versatile, sure-handed back, who can excel in the new system.
7. Jamad Williams, Sr. Tulsa
When the quarterback wasn't scrambling, Tulsa's first option in the running game was the 5-9, 212-pound senior. A proven veteran, with three letters of experience, he pounded his way to 389 yards and a touchdown on 101 carries. A former defensive back, he won't shy away from contact, often lowering his shoulder and driving forward for more yards. He had trouble generating big plays last season, but in his defense, rarely enjoyed much running room or space to operate. A decent pass-catcher, a must in this system, he had 11 receptions for 86 yards and a score a year ago.
8. Sam McGuffie, Soph. Rice
McGuffie began his career in Ann Arbor, rushing for 486 yards and three touchdowns on 118 carries, while catching 19 passes for 175 yards and another score. He was homesick, however, which could be a boon to the Owls for the next three years. At 6-0 and 200 pounds, he's a fantastic all-around athlete, with the balance and bounce in his step to electrify in the open field.
9. V.J. Floyd, Sr. Southern Miss
Even without last year's top two rushers, including all-timer Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss is ecstatic about the talent and depth it has in the backfield. While there's no clear-cut starter and many will play, the 5-10, 196-pound Floyd will start the summer at the head of the line. He's paid his dues, earning a letter as a backup and special teamer, carrying 17 times for 59 yards in 2009. In anticipation of an expanded role, he's added some muscle in the offseason, yet maintains the quick feet and agility that his him on the cusp of a career year.
10. Pat Shed, Jr. UAB
After being virtually unused a year ago, the UAB running backs will be well-rested and poised for larger roles. If the spring is any indication, the 5-9, 180-pound junior wasn't signed out of East Mississippi Community College to watch from the sidelines. The most exciting option among the runners, he showed big-play ability and soft hands as a receiver. If the Blazers can get him in space and get him about 20 touches a game, he could be one of the team's big surprises of 2010.
11. Tyler Smith, Jr. Rice
Smith exited spring as the starter among several options, keeping the momentum he had at the end of 2009. He closed with back-to-back 100-yard games to finish with 428 yards and a touchdown on 101 carries. It was an impressive statement for the 5-8, 195-pound back, who had missed well over a year to a knee injury. While undersized, he has a good burst and the vision to dance in and out of holes.
12. Gregory Ray, Sr. Memphis
Finally healthy, Ray has risen to a position of prominence in his second season out of El Camino (Calif.) Community College. The 5-10, 205-pounder mostly played on special teams and logged just four carries for 16 yards, but was sharp in the spring and runs with the kind of authority that the coaches demand. <