Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Top 5 Big Ten Running Backs in 2009

Today, will start my position-by-position breakdown of each position heading into 2009. These top five lists put into consideration past success and future potential. We'll start with the pride of last season's Big Ten conference: running backs.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Minor, Stephfon Green, Jason Ford

Top Five:
5. Boom Herron

2008 Stats: 89 Rushes - 439 Yards - 6 Touchdowns
Having a catchy nickname must be a requirement to play RB for Ohio State. Daniel 'Boom' Herron filled in adequatelyfor the oft-injured Chris 'Beanie' Wells in 2008. Boom's shining moment was the 2008 regular season finale against the rival Michigan Wolverines. Herron ran for 80 yards on only eight carries, and two touchdowns. I look for Herron to become the main option on the ground (besides Terrelle Pryor) for the Buckeyes in 2009. Boom was a four star recruit coming out of high school, and will only be a sophomore this season.

4. DeLeon Eskridge

2008 Stats: 184 Rushes - 678 Yards - 7 Touchdowns

DeLeon had an impressive freshman season for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He will be instrumental in helping coach Tim Brewster continue to turn around the program. Eskridge showed some flash, twice going over the 100 yard mark in 2008. But, like the Gophers, he faded down the stretch only rushing for 63 yards in his last three games combined.

3. Jewel Hampton
2008 Stats: 91 Rushes - 463 Yards - 7 Touchdowns
Jewel showed that he has what it takes when he was given the opportunity. His best game of the season, against his home state Hoosiers, Hampton ripped off 114 yards and 3 touchdowns. While, most of his carries were against inferior competition, he did show some promise in the Outback bowl. He was given some early reps, when Greene needed a breather, and racked up 54 yards against a stout South Carolina defense.

2. John Clay

2008 Stats: 155 Rushes - 884 Yards - 9 Touchdowns
John Clay showed all the promise of being a big time bruser running back. Now, the question is whether he can sustain it, unlike P.J. Hill. Clay seems to be in better shape than Hill, and have slightly more breakaway speed. While splitting carries with both Hill and Zach Brown, Clay still managed to be the seventh leading rusher in the conference. With Hill out of the picture, I look for Clay to go well over the 1,000 yard mark.

1. Evan Royster

2008 Stats: 191 Rushes - 1,236 Yards - 12 Touchdowns
2008 was a banner year for Big Ten running backs. One name that might have gotten lost in the shuffle was Evan Royster. Royster didn't get all the attention that Javon Ringer, Shonn Greene, Beanie Wells, and Tyrell Sutton were getting. Royster actually had the highest yards-per-carry average (6.5) amongst the top ten rushers. He finished the year third in the conference in rushing. Royster and RB Stephfon Green should provide Penn State a powerful one-two punch in 09.

Photos: Jeff Gross/Getty Images,, Bryan Faust, AP


  1. Compelling post Dylan. It seems weird that Jewel would already be the 3rd best back in the Big Ten. That would be great though. I certainly wouldn't complain.

    This position took a big hit as evidenced by DeLeon Eskrdige's inclusion as well. That guy was really just ok as a freshman. The Big Ten looks like it might have a down year for running backs. Royster is the only one on your list who was a star last year.

  2. I agree. There is a ton of potential on this list, but they still need to prove themselves. Your right that only Royster would have made the top five list of running backs from 2008.