Tag Archives | Trent Richardson

Top 10 Running Backs for 2010

HP’s preview of the 2010 season continues with a look at the top 10 running backs.  See the top 10 receivers here and the top 10 tight ends here.

1. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech–It looks to me like Williams is the complete package.  He’s got size, speed, vision, toughness and a nose for the end zone.  He put up 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Hokies as a 2009 redshirt freshman.  He also caught 16 passes, including one for a score.  He played very well against good competition–71 yards, 5.5 ypc and 2 TDs in his debut vs. Alabama, 107 yards against Nebraska–and I expect him to keep improving in 2010 and possibly become a Heisman candidate.  I think there is a wide gap between him and teammate Darren Evans (talent-wise), so I do not expect for him to lose much in the way of production due to sharing carries.

2. Noel Devine, West Virginia–The most electrifying back in college football, the smurf-like Devine used his amazing speed and cutting ability to notch 1,465 yards and 13 scores on the ground in 2009.  He also caught 22 passes, including one touchdown reception.  His coach has expressed a desire to get him more carries as a senior and I think this will result in a monster season.  His only weakness is a lack of real power–he goes down fairly easily most of the time–but he’s in a perfect system to highlight his superb abilities in space.  Outside of Florida’s Jeff Demps, he might have the best breakaway speed of any back out there.

3. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State–The diminutive Rodgers can do it all.  He piled up 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground last year, while also catching 78 passes for 522 yards and a score.  Oh, and he threw a touchdown pass, too.  He’s a legitimate Heisman candidate who is primed to break a bunch of Pac-10 records before he’s through with his career.  Not a burner, but as consistent and versatile as they come and a relentless competitor.

4. Donald Buckram, UTEP–A top-notch talent stuck on a bad team, Buckram has great speed to go with outstanding vision.  If he were on a major power, he’d be a Heisman candidate.  Last year, he rushed for 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns and added another three scores on 30 catches for 453 yards.  Look for bigger and better in 2010.

5. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State–Not many people know about this guy, but I don’t think that will be the case after the 2010 season.  Thomas is perhaps the nation’s premier power back, but he’s not just a bulldozer out there as he is also fairly athletic and skilled.  Last year was his first year playing tailback and he responded with 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 25 balls.  He is really, really tough to bring down.  I predict a huge senior season for him and a bright NFL future.

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Could Ingram Be The First Heisman Winner to Fade into Obscurity While Still in School?

We’re knee-deep in a new Heisman age, with the last three winners coming from the sophomore class.

From the current vantage point, it appears the first two–Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford–stand a bit apart (categorically) from the most recent winner, Mark Ingram of Alabama.

Here’s why: Both Tebow and Bradford won the Heisman relatively comfortably while putting up earth-shattering statistics from the quarterback position.  Ingram, however, took home the trophy in the closest race in Heisman history while producing very good, though not ground-breaking, numbers as a running back.  Neither Tebow nor Bradford shared significant playing time with their backups, as Ingram did with true freshman Trent Richardson (145 carries, 751 yards, 8 TDS).  The result was that at no time during their Heisman-winning seasons was an observer able to credibly suppose that their backups might at least be comparable in talent, as was the case when watching Ingram and Richardson perform.  Obviously, this comparison was possible due to the different natures of the quarterback and running back positions.  Star signal callers rarely come out of a game when it matters, while even the best running backs need a breather once in a while.  As a result, we were able to see a top recruit like Richardson acquit himself quite well in several games.

We are all familiar with past Heisman winners who have flopped or fallen off the map post-college on their way to becoming the butt of jokes.  But Ingram’s situation raises the possibility that he could be the first Heisman winner to dramatically decline in productivity and status while still in school.  Not because of anything he will have done wrong, but because the guy emerging behind him is really talented and might be given a fair shot at being just as productive (if not more so).

Obviously, this is not a fait accompli.  A lot could happen in the next two years.  Ingram could keep improving and build upon his outstanding sophomore season with two more excellent efforts and go down as one of the more prolific backs of the last two decades.  Heck, maybe he’ll win two Heismans. 

But no other returning Heisman winner–much less one with two years remaining in his career–has ever had his primacy challenged to the degree that Ingram has by Richardson.   Increasingly, it looks like the two are operating as a tandem, with neither holding the upper hand in the carry department. 

If Ingram finishes his career in a steady-though-not-spectacular fashion due to the emergence of Richardson, we might have a hard time remembering that he won the Heisman in the first place.  Especially if Richardson wins the Heisman in his own right.

It’s not a bad problem for Alabama to have.  If Ingram keeps getting better and rises to the challenge, then he could be a factor in Heisman races to come.  But if Richardson fulfills his promise, he’ll also be smack-dab in that same conversation.  Or, both could end up being major stars and Heisman candidates, churning out thousands of yards between them, a la LenDale White and Reggie Bush at USC.  Again, not a bad problem for the Tide.

So I think the answer to the question of this post’s title is:  Not probable, but certainly an interesting possibility. 

Will Trent Richardson spoil Mark Ingram’s Heisman image?

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