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Why are College Football Running Backs Acting So Stupid?

Jeremy Hill

Johnny Manziel was arrested last spring and has been a bit of a knucklehead ever since arriving in College Station. Zach Mettenberger was kicked off the Georgia Bulldogs for two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. Aaron Hernandez and Jerramy Stevens gave the tight end position a horrendously bad name both in college and the NFL.

But it appears the running back position has taken over as the dumbest position on the college gridiron and it seems to have culminated this summer.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde has been dismissed from the team stemming from an early morning arrest in Bloomington, Ind. Hyde scored 17 touchdowns last year and is now facing “preliminary charges of battery resulting in bodily injury.” He has cost himself a chance to play for a BCS National Championship and has hurt Ohio State's title hopes.

Hyde is the just the latest in what has become a long and distinguished list of big-time running backs to find themselves in off-the-field trouble over the past few seasons. I am talking about four-and five-star elite recruits who had the chance to live a dream at elite blueblood universities.

No, this obviously doesn’t mean that every single ball carrier in the world is an idiot. Trent Richardson, Montee Ball, Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, De'Anthony Thomas and plenty of other big-time recruits have stayed focused, been extremely productive and helped their teams win big. And no, it doesn’t mean that other positions don’t act like morons too (see Mettenberger). So is this summer a sign of a developing trend or just a string of random unconnected incidents? You be the judge.

(Signing class in parenthesis)

Jeremy Hill, LSU (2011)
The four-star prospect from Baton Rouge is currently suspended indefinitely after his “legal entanglement” stemming from a simple battery charge this April. However, Hill was on probation at the time of the arrest after an illicit relationship with a minor when he was 18 years old. He rushed for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns last year and was poised to push T.J. Yeldon and Todd Gurley as the best back in the SEC this fall.

Michael Dyer, Auburn (2010)
The former five-star recruit was the No. 2 tailback in the nation coming out of the 2010 class. He signed with Auburn and played a huge roll on the unbeaten 2010 BCS National Champions. After a long list of arrests, traffic incidents, failed drug tests and gun issues, Dyer is still looking for a place to play ball.

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Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona (2011)
Not only was Carey a big-time, four-star recruit back in 2011 but he led the nation in rushing a year ago. He also faced domestic abuse charges (which have since been dropped) and was kicked out of a basketball game last season. At least there is still time for this one.

Wes Brown, Maryland (2012)
The in-state prospect was one of the most highly-touted players to ever sign with the Terrapins. But his car was allegedly involved with a non-fatal shooting and he was then arrested for attempting to punch a police officer, fleeing from police and illegal wire-tapping this summer. Avon Barksdale would be proud.

Michael Holmes, Virginia Tech (2011)
Holmes wasn’t an elite recruit — a three-star prospect from Harrisonburg, Va. — but was expected to compete for starting time this fall for one of the ACC’s most prominent football programs. He was kicked off the team last month after being found guilty of misdemeanor assault.

Isaiah Crowell, Georgia (2011)
The local product was a four-star elite recruit who proved to be an excellent running back as a freshman (850 yards). But he also faced three weapons charges, including two felonies. He was dismissed from the team and landed at Alabama State.

Bryce Brown, Tennessee (2009)
Brown was the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation in 2009 and his saga is a well-known one. His recruitment was a joke as one seedy handler and leeches pushed and pulled him in every direction. After 460 yards rushing in his first season and a public spat with coach Derek Dooley, Brown returned home to Kansas State. He rushed for 16 yards at KSU before leaving early for the NFL.

Dillon Baxter, USC (2010)
The No. 1-rated, five-star all-purpose star signed with USC and rushed for 258 yards and six scores as a freshman. He was then ruled ineligible for accepting improper benefits and was later kicked off the Trojans roster. He then enrolled at San Diego State but was dismissed from his second team before ever playing a down last February.

Washaun Ealey, Georgia (2009)
After two solid but uninspiring seasons with Georgia, the former four-star recruit was dismissed from the team after multiple suspensions and one hit-and-run incident. He landed at Jacksonville State and was promptly arrested again before the 2012 season opener.

Jovon Robinson, Auburn (2012)
The four-star from Memphis enrolled early at Auburn last spring before the story broke about a potential grade-changing scandal. Robinson landed at Georgia Military College and is looking to get back into SEC football.

Marcus Coker, Iowa (2010)
A four-star prospect from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, Coker starred as a freshman and a sophomore for the Hawkeyes. He was then suspended for disciplinary reasons prior to the bowl game in 2011 and never played a down for Iowa again.