Top Returning SEC Running Backs For 2017

    The SEC is once again loaded with quality running backs, but who is the best among the returning runners in 2017?

    March 8, 2017

    The SEC is once again loaded with quality running backs, but who is the best among the returning runners in 2017?


    The SEC will be home to a slew of talented backs in 2017. The SEC always harbors a cadre of quality backs. In fact, of the 10 league backs who rushed for 1,000 yards last season, only Kentucky’s Boom Williams is no longer an amateur. The face of the position, Leonard Fournette, is gone, but Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb and Bo Scarbrough, among others, are ready to carry the torch. And some of the SEC’s lesser-known backs, such as Vandy’s Ralph Webb, Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams, Kentucky’s Benny Snell and Mizzou’s Damarea Crockett, would be top 5 timber in a number of other leagues.

    Top Returning SEC Running Backs

    5. Rawleigh Williams, Arkansas

    For Bret Bielema’s offense to operate at peak performance, it needs a feature back who can carry the load, week-in and week-out. Williams is that horse in Fayetteville. He’s big and physical at 5-10 and 226 pounds, and he proved durable in his starting debut a year ago. Williams was named to the All-SEC Second Team after rushing for 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns on 233 carries, a 5.7-yard average that speaks to his potential to pop long runs from scrimmage.

    4. Kamryn Pettway, Auburn

    For a time last season, it looked as if Pettway would channel former Tiger Tre Mason, making a late and unexpected push for Heisman contention. But then a Nov. 5 quad injury derailed the 240-pound Auburn wrecking ball. Prior to the injury, Pettway, who didn’t even touch the ball in Week 1, barreled for more than 1,100 yards in seven games. With a full season and more support from the passing game, he could be this year’s D’Onta Foreman in college football.

    3. Bo Scarbrough, Alabama

    True, Scarbrough was Bama’s third-leading rusher a year ago, and now five-star Najee Harris is entering the crowded mix. But Scarbrough’s ceiling is unquestionably high, particularly after he started approaching it in last season’s playoffs. The 6-2, 228-pounder is a potential unicorn of backs, strong enough to run through tacklers and quick enough to zip past them. It’ll be interesting to see what Scarbrough is capable of in 2017 if he can earn 200-plus touches.

    2. Nick Chubb, Georgia

    With each passing month, Chubb travels further from the serious knee injury that felled him as a sophomore. And that means he’s moving closer to once again becoming the premier back in America. Chubb rushed for 1,130 yards and eight scores in his return last fall. Now, he wants to return to being the emerging superstar who had gone for at least 100 yards in 13 consecutive games before landing awkwardly in the 2015 loss to Tennessee.

    1. Derrius Guice, LSU

    A star was born last season in Baton Rouge. This fall, that young playmaker gets an opportunity to completely step outside of Leonard Fournette’s prodigious shadow. Guice flourished when his number was called in 2016, averaging 7.6 yards per carry and smashing the school’s single-game rushing mark on Nov. 24. It’s difficult to find weaknesses in his game, and he’s still ascending. Guice has all of the measurables, as well as the motor, to capture the individual awards that Fournette couldn’t the past two seasons.

    MORE: Top Returning Running Backs In College Football For 2017

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