Sep 032010

The running back position has changed a great deal over the past 10 years. Most teams use two and some even three to share carries. Carolina had two backs — DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart — gain over 1,100 rushing yards in 2009.

Since 1998, 41 running backs have been selected in the first year of the NFL draft. Running back may be the easiest position for a rookie to come in and start quickly. Speed and strength are important, but outstanding quickness is the most important trait for the position. Running backs have become more involved in the passing game, so being a good receiver is also very important.

Here are my top 5 junior and senior running back prospects.

5. Jamie Harper, Clemson, 6,0″, 230lbs, Junior.

Jamie Harper has good size and if he doesn’t blow by you he can run through you or make you miss. He runs with power, finishes runs and has a good stiff arm. He shows excellent quickness, hips, feet and the ability to make a defender look silly in the open field. Harper has good vision, balance and instincts and can stop on a dime and show extraordinary change of direction and athleticism. Harper has blazing speed and is so explosive. Harper is one of the top running backs in the Jacksonville area, He ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophmore. He also had 300 yards and five touchdowns receiving; Harper benches 350 pounds, squats 530 pounds and has a 38.5-inch vertical jump. With the departure of C.J Spiller to the NFL Harper will be the main man in the Tigers backfield this season, he is expected to provide the thunder to sophomore Andre Ellington’s lightning.

4. Jacquizz Rogers, Oregon state, 5,7″, 188lbs, Junior.

Jacquizz Rodgers is on my heisman watch list this season. He has put up incredible numbers during his first two seasons at Oregon state gaining a total of 2,793 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns, he scored 21 of those last season. He teamed alongside brother James who is also a great talent to lead the Beaver offense. Like James, Jaquizz has great receiving skills and has gained 796 yards over the last two years. Rodgers runs with surprising power and has great leg drive. He is an effort player that gives it is all on each run and each play. You think you have him down but those legs of his don’t stop moving. Rodgers has good speed and quickness. He is a good inside runner and also has the speed to bounce things out wide. Rodgers shows good vision and excellent balance.

3. Evan Royster, Penn state, 5,11″, 217lbs. Senior.

Royster is a fifth-year player who has started the past two seasons, rushing for 2,405 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is a very good athlete (an outstanding lacrosse player) and is a good blocker. He doesn’t have any weakness and is a smart player with good character. Royster has distinguished himself amongst all the great running backs that have worn the blue and white. His 22-yard burst on his first carry in last season’s win at Michigan State pushed him past the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year, becoming just the seventh Nittany Lion to record multiple 1,000-yard campaigns. The vastly talented and intelligent Royster has joined a great fraternity. Curt Warner, Tony Hunt, Blair Thomas, Curtis Enis, Ki-Jana Carter and Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti are the only other Lions to accomplish the feat. An All-America and Doak Walker Award candidate, Royster stands 481 yards away from breaking Warner’s school career record of 3,398 rushing yards.

2. DeMarco Murrey, Oklahoma, 6,0″, 215lbs, Senior.

I would have ranked Murrey at number one on my list had he not been injured so often during his time at Oklahoma. I really believe he could be the first running back taken in next years draft if he can show scouts he can stay healthy this season. Murray is a fifth-year player who can do everything. He has running ability, speed, strength and outstanding quickness. Add to that he’s a very good receiver. He reminds me of Reggie Bush in the open field. Murray has 2,471 rushing yards and 977 receiving yards to date and should be in New york for the Heisman trophy award ceremony if all goes to plan this season. I would not bet against him winning it either.

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama, 5,10″, 215lbs, Junior.

Mark Ingram became Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner in 2009 as he helped lead the Crimson Tide to the school’s 13th national title, its first since 1992. Ingram possesses a rare combination of power and quickness that will have NFL teams eager to draft him if he decides to turn pro after this season. He set the school single-season rushing record with 1,658 yards in 2009 and during his time with the Crimson tide he has racked up 2,386 yards rushing on 414 carries and 29 rushing touchdowns. That’s pretty good in just two years. He has good bloodlines through his father Mark senior who won a superbowl under Bill Parcells with the New york Giants. Many people think because Mark has to miss the first game this season his chances of a back to back Heisman are unlikely but if the team goes all the way again and Ingram is the best player on the team it may be hard not to give him another. I can’t wait to see him team with Trent Richardson this season who himself could emulate Ingram as a Heisman winner when Ingram turns pro.

Rhodri Jones

Rhodri Jones was last on location in California, covering Superbowl 50 for us here at Over the past six years, Rhodri has established himself as a great writer and has entertained the world with his supreme sports knowledge and confident, laid back style with our NFL draft and weekly NFL radio shows during the season. He's appeared on national broadcasts both in the U.S and U.K and it won't be long before we see much more from him. His accent and knowledge combination is niche in the industry at the highest level and it really sets him apart. Rhodri' talents truly just begin there. In 2012, during one of his adventures here in the United States, Rhodri got his foot in the door at GQ magazine as a potential contributing writer and his journalistic skills are second to none. His current featured work is about the great Dianne Halloway and her amazing men's footwear company '' The Halloway collection ''. Rhodri was schooled in the Welsh language and is a passionate Welsh-man. As a writer here at Sport city, Rhodri has given us many of his great articles and we dare you not to be inspired when you read them. In 2013, Rhodri was a vital part in the creation of the movie ''The Last Fall''. A film created and directed by former NFL wide receiver Matthew A Cherry through his production company in Los Angeles. When asked his inspirations in life, Rhodri started with his family and in particular his mother who he said was '' truly one of a kind and the most courageous but kindest person he'd ever known ''. She's no doubt a big reason behind Rhodri's drive and determination. In the sports industry he said, as a child he would attempt to emulate the style of Wales international rugby center Scott Gibbs and did so on the field until a serious injury took his dream away. Never the less, Rhodri returned to the field 4 years later and then to the grid-iron in South Wales after fighting to recover from the serious back injury that held him back. In the NFL, players like Jim Brown, John Lynch, Payton Manning, Ray Lewis, Walter Payton, Qadry Ismail, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Oher, Hines Ward,Troy Polamalu, the late Junior Seau, Pat Tillman, Steve McNair and many others both current and past have all been massively inspirational to Rhodri during his life and a huge reason behind his passion for the game. In the UK sports media industry he gives much love and respect to Sky Sports NFL, C4 NFL, BBC sports and the likes of Nat Coombs, Mike Carlson, Kevin Cadle, Neil Raynolds and Nick Halling for their support, motivation and for making his name known to fans in the UK by reading his messages and tweets out live to the nation each week on their live NFL shows. We'd imagine they'd be equally grateful to Rhodri for his depth of knowledge and his unique views. Rhodri has been a great ambassador for us at London's Wembley stadium since the NFL introduced it's 'International series ' games there. Rhodri has visited the United States many times and has covered games in Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Oakland and Indianapolis and has attended many more as a fan in both the pro and college game, bringing many players and coaches to us here at sport city. Rhodri started out with us here through his great friend Tyrone 'TP Tymeless' Powell. They came in together after TP left a company in New York and brought his loyal friend with him. Rhodri was known to NFL fans in America at this point through his correspondents on with the likes of current NFL experts, coaches and players like Gil Brandt, Pat Kirwin, Phil Simms, Bill Parcells, Brian Billick, Teddy Bruschi, Ray Maualuga and Steve Wyche to name just a few. Hopefully all will be re-united at Superbowl 50 so stay tuned for posts and insight from our very own Rhodri Jones here on

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