Running into the 2012 seasonTuesday, April 24, 2012
Each year in college football there are a number of talented running backs and 2012 will be no different. Some of the running backs are returning starters while others are stepping up into a starting role. Either way, these backs will have to be successful running the football if their team hopes to have success this season.
Montee Ball, SR – Wisconsin
Ball returns for his senior season after contemplating entering the 2012 NFL draft. Ball was a Heisman Trophy finalist and consensus first team All-American last year and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year after he tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA record of 39 total touchdowns. He also led the country in rushing with 1,923 yards and will be expected to produce the same if not more for the Badgers in 2012.
Knile Davis, RS JR –Arkansas
Coming off of an ankle injury that kept him out of action last season, Davis is expected to have a tremendous comeback year for the Razorbacks. The recent firing of coach Bobby Petrino could affect his production, but Davis is an elite talent. In 2010 when he was the featured running back he ran for 1,322 yards on 204 attempts. He had a 6.5 yards per carry average and 13 touchdowns. The Razorbacks, who are expected to have a great season in Fayetteville even without Petrino,will need Davis to return to the form of his sophomore year.
Eddie Lacy, JR – Alabama
For the second time in three years the Crimson Tide need to replace a big-time running back. Trent Richardson carried the offense last season for the national champs – just as Mark Ingram did in 2009 -- and now he will be handing off the baton to Eddie Lacy. Lacy had 631 yards on 84 carries backing up Richardson last season and ranked 11th in the SEC with 57.4 yards per game. There isn’t expected to be a drop off from Richardson to Lacy as he is expected to be able to handle the burden.
Kenjon Barner, SR – Oregon
Oregon also has to replace an outstanding running back in LaMichael James and Barner is the back who will get most of the workload for the Ducks. Last season Barner, who is another explosive talent for Oregon, ranked eighth in the Pac-12 with an average of 78.2 yards per game. If the Ducks want to continue their success and be a major factor in the national title race they will need Barner to produce.
Silas Redd, JR – Penn State
While the quarterback situation in Happy Valley was unsettled for much of the season in what was an overall unsettling year, Redd compiled 1,241 yards and 7 touchdowns. Under new coach Bill O’Brien, Redd could be relied on heavily especially given the Nittany Lions are still not set on their starting quarterback. Redd will have to be the stable force for the Penn State offense while adjusting to O’Brien.
Marcus Lattimore, JR –South Carolina
After exploding onto the scene as a freshman in 2010 Lattimore was playing great before a knee injury ended his sophomore season. Lattimore will have to make adjustments coming off the injury, but I fully expect him to produce once again. It might take a little while for him to get going, but once he gets some carries he will be back to form.
Joseph Randle, JR –Oklahoma State
Randle returns after a tremendous sophomore year. He was named to the second team Big 12 after scoring 24 touchdowns, which was third best in the nation. He also ran for 1,216 yards for an average of 93.5 per game. With the loss of star wide receiver Justin Blackmon and starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, Randle will have to carry the load for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys. If Oklahoma State is to have another tremendous season Randle will be a key reason why.
Giovani Bernard, RS SO –North Carolina
After tearing his ACL before his freshman season, Bernard came out with a vengeance in 2011 by running for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns. He will have to continue to pound the rock as the team will be adjusting to new coach Larry Fedora. Bernard will be a key for the Tar Heels this upcoming season.