Freshmen/JUCO RB Outlook
Athlon continues its 2010 college fantasy draft kit with a look at freshmen, redshirt freshmen and junior college running backs that could contribute this season. # - National Fantasy Running Back Ranking
Every season, freshmen and junior college recruits step onto campus with an opportunity to start. Which true/redshirt freshmen and JUCO running backs should you target in your fall draft?
1. Michael Dyer, Auburn (#90)
The No. 2 running back recruit in the nation is built to be a workhorse back in the mold of Maurice Jones-Drew or Jacquizz Rodgers. Dyer is short (5-foot-8) in stature but not production. The former AC100 prospect owns nearly every state rushing record in Arkansas and will push for early playing time. Mario Fannin is a converted wide receiver and Onterio McCalebb is more of a third down back. There is a lot of talent ahead of him, but Dyer might be too good to keep off the field.
2. Dillon Baxter, USC (#104)
This AC100 recruit did everything for his high school team – he passed for 1,968 yards and 26 TDs (only 7 INTs) while rushing for a San Diego record 2,984 yards and 50 TDs. He added two INT returns for scores as well as acting as the return man. The EA Sports Mr. Football USA and Max Preps National Player of the Year should step right into the Trojan backfield after enrolling early this spring and compete for time. Passing Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, Marc Tyler and Stanley Havili on the depth chart will be tough, but Baxter could weasel his way into the mix this fall.
3. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (#107)
The No. 1 running back prospect in the nation has a chance to start right away. Lattimore is the complete package of skills and will be an excellent receiver as well as an every down back. There isn’t a lot in his way on the depth chart but the offense has failed to run the ball effectively for as long as Steve Spurrier has been there. Lattimore could easily end up as the top true freshman running back in the nation for 2010.
4. Malcolm Jones, UCLA (#149)
Few players were as productive as Jones as a senior in high school. He rushed for 2,156 yards and 36 TDs on less than 200 carries while doubling as a stud linebacker who tallied 136 tackles. Johnathan Franklin is the starter but Norm Chow cannot wait to see what Jones can do — and the 2009 Gatorade National Player of the Year might never relinquish the starting gig if he gets his chance.
5. Storm Johnson, Miami
Johnson is a few names down the Hurricane depth chart but has been enrolled in classes since January and has been making good impressions ever since. The offensive line hasn’t been great in recent years but should be improved this season and the big freshman will have a chance to pass the other backs currently vying for carries.
6. Deontae Cooper, Washington
Talented recruit has been turning heads in practice thus far, likely backup to Chris Polk.
7. Casey Turner, Rutgers
Joe Martinek is average, so Turner could sneak into the line-up easily.
8. Lache Seastrunk, Oregon
Way too talented to keep off the field with the recent depletion of skill guys.
9. Joshua Quezada, BYU
Without Harvey Unga, there will be plenty of carries to go around.
10. Mack Brown, Florida
A very talented kid who has to pass a lot of good names for playing time.
Other names to watch:
11. DeMarcus Robinson, Kansas State
12. Josh Snead, Duke
13. Jordan James, UCLA
14. Jerrell Rhodes, Memphis
15. Brennan Clay, Oklahoma
1. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State (#133)
Ballard is a prototype big JUCO back. He is a bruiser who is much more like Anthony Dixon than Robert Elliott is — who will need to struggle if Ballard expects to earn 150+ carries.
2. Pat Shed, UAB
Should start so is viable but the Blazers ground attack is not the most potent.
3. Jasmin Hopkins, Northern Illinois
The Huskies will share carries but Hopkins is a clear No. 2 to Chad Spann.
4. Kenny Ashley, Ohio
Will have a chance to separate himself once camp opens – provided he makes the grade.
5. Debrale Smiley, Florida State
Must pass two solid options to get a chance to play behind that stellar offensive line.
1. Kendrick Hardy, Southern Miss (#59)
The depth chart doesn’t indicate Hardy will start currently but make no mistake he is most talented running back on the roster. He will need to pass some more experienced options in order to be fantasy relevant. If he earns the starting job, however, he should post some good numbers as the Southern Miss tailback has been one of the juicier fantasy players in recent memory.
2. Michael Ford, LSU (#98)
Ford is an outstanding talent who has a chance to reestablish the physical presence fans are accustomed to seeing from the LSU ground game. He will need to pass Stevan Ridley on the depth chart in order to see carries, but if the offensive line can solidify itself, Ford could really shine.
3. Lamar Miller, Miami (#135)
Much like Johnson, Miller will have a chance to pass the other names who are projected to start. The Frank Gore-type player is the hometown kid and should get plenty of chances to make plays.
4. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State
Hillman was slotted to play last season but was slowed by eligibility issues. The 116th ranked offense should get a big boost from this youngster who could start from game one.
5. Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan
The backfield is wide open in Ann Arbor and Toussaint has as good a chance as any to separate himself. The RichRod spread option always has plenty of carries to go around, so if he can beat out the injured Vincent Smith and the smallish Michael Shaw, he will have a chance to produce some decent numbers.
Other names to watch:
6. Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State
7. Chris Whaley, Texas
8. Jamaal Berry, Ohio State
9. Bradley Randle, UNLV
10. Marcus Washington, Arizona State