Running back is a position where we consistently see freshmen impact the college game. In recent years, entire backfields have come in as newcomers and transformed a program’s ground game. This year is no different. Below we take a look at the top five running back recruiting classes in the 2014 cycle.
Sony Michel was a standout performer at the U.S. Army Bowl practices.
Gurschel has got some competition. Though there hasn’t yet been a catchy nickname assigned to Michel and Chubb, the two look every bit as capable to have the same kind of impact on the college level as Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley did as freshmen. Chubb brings a similar powerful skill-set to Gurley while Michel is the shifty big-play threat that Marshall has become. There won’t be a lot of carries to spare but Chubb and Michel will make the most of whatever they get. Both are ranked in the Top100 in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Joe MIxon’s commitment to Oklahoma at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been the highlight of this recruiting cycle for Oklahoma. The five-star had offers from everyone in the country and should be a great fit in OU’s screen game making plays in space. But don’t forget about Perine. He’s ranked by 247Sports Composite as a top 15 running back nationally and at 5-11, 233 pounds he is that compact between the tackles back that complements the rangy Mixon well. The third name in the mix at OU is Flowers who is more of a flex, H-Back, fullback athlete. Collectively the group has early impact written all over it.
Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine)
Darrell Williams (New Orleans, La./John Ehret)
Fournette’s presence on this list alone give LSU an argument for having the best running back class in the country. He’s the 247Sports Composite National Player of the year and he’s one of the best backs we’ve seen in years. With the departure of Jeremy Hill to the NFL, Fournette is a strong candidate to start from Day one in Baton Rouge. On any other commitment list, Williams would be the headliner, he’s got the same kind of power as Fournette and should bring a similar bruising style to the LSU offense to spell Fournette. He’s also likely a future NFL runner.
4. Virginia Tech
Not only does Virginia Tech have depth coming in with the 2014 recruiting class (3 commits), it also has size (5-11/210, 5-11/215, 6-1/195), talent (all ranked four-stars on 247Sports) and experience. Both McKenzie and Williams will be enrolling early and participating in spring practice for the Hokies. While Reid won’t be enrolling early, he’s already a year removed from high school, having spent the last year in prep school. That combination of physical maturity and talent should help Virginia Tech get an immediate boost from its incoming crop.
5. Oklahoma State
With the wide open offensive attack that is in place in Stillwater, Mike Gundy has compiled a potent group of running backs to carry it out. Hill is the No. 3 junior college prospect in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings and he has all kinds of speed despite limited size. Thomas is that bigger three-down back while Palelei, once an LSU commit is a nice mix between the two. All three could play early due to their varying skill sets.