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B1G 2016 Spring Position Rankings: Running Backs

All about the Running Backs!

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ballcarriers. Bellcows. Workhorses. Key components of three yards and a cloud of dust, or exciting spread option attacks. Today I'm going to rank the best returning and incoming running backs in our fair conference ranked by yards gained last season.

1) Justin Jackson (the BallCarrier) - Northwestern University

Justin Jackson ended his sophomore season with 1418 total rushing yards on 312 attempts averaging 4.5 yards a carry! Imagine his production if Clayton Thorson and the wide receivers had a better season. Maybe he'll surpass Damien Anderson and Darnell Autry by the end of his tenure in Evanston.

MNWildcat agrees with the sentiment:

Justin Jackson is a god. Clayton Thorson needs better receivers and a better line but then needs to show the ability to hit those receivers on out routes and not turtle the moment he feels pressure. Good talk.

Justin Jackson is backed up by Warren Long, Auston Anderson and others. Incoming recruit Jeremy Larkin looks promising.

2) Saquon Barkley, Penn State University

Saquon Barkley averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1076 yards on 182 attempts for the Nittany Lion rushing attack.

Aaron Yorke has the scoop

Breakout star Saquon Barkley and true freshman Miles Sanders may give Penn State the most dangerous rushing attack in the conference. Last year, Barkley used his speed and agility to gain 5.9 yards per carry and become a threat in the receiving game as well. In 2016, he'll be teamed with Sanders, who some scouts think is the top tailback in this year's recruiting class. If the new Nittany Lion quarterback can keep defenses from stacking the box, both guys could approach 1,000 yards this year.

3) Devine Redding -- Indiana University

Redding averaged 4.5 yards per carry for 1022 yards on 226 attempts. He should be ready to handle the entire load for the Hoosiers this year, since Jordan Howard took his prodigious talents to the NFL.

Candystripes agrees:

Devine Redding is more than ready to be next man up for IU.

4) Markell Jones, Purdue University

Jones averaged 5.2 yards per carry for 875 yards on 168 attempts for the Boilermakers last season.

5) Dare Ogunbowale, University of Wisconsin

Ogunbowale averaged 4.2 yards per carry for 819 yards on 194 attempts for the Badgers last season.
Thomas Speth has more to add on the Badger running attack:

All the Wisconsin running backs are back. Although losing Derek Watt is going to hurt. Would be nice to get Clement actually going this year. Having a better offensive line will help.

6) Terrell Newby, University of Nebraska

Newby averaged 5.2 yards per carry for 765 yards on 147 attempts for the Cornhuskers last year.
Jesse Collins shares his thoughts on the Huskers' running attack for next season:
I like the Nebraska backs in Terrell Newby and Devine Ozigbo. They’re very different backs, but both have the potential to put up much better numbers in 2016, and honestly, I’d almost expect Ozigbo to be the starter. He’s a bigger back, but he’s definitely a kid who can make moves in the open field.

7) Robert Martin, Rutgers University

Martin averaged 5.4 yards per carry for 763 yards on 141 attempts for the Scarlet Knights last year. Ray Ransom is very optimistic about next season:

RU should have one of the best RB corps in the Big Ten this year. Hicks and Martin forming the backbone of a power spread offense behind a pretty experienced, pretty large offensive line should be something opposing defenses fear. The unit goes 4 deep with decent game experience and there is talent waiting in the wings. With the QB situation is in flux and the receivers potentially taking a step back without Carroo, the Rutgers offense is going to live and die by the run game. Fortunately, there's some serious horsepower there.

In addition to Hicks and Martin, Janarion Grant and Justin Goodwin should get some touches for Chris Ash's new offense. Incoming recruit Vincent Guagadino of Seaside Heights should redshirt this year.

8) Deveon Smith, University of Michigan

Smith averaged 4.2 yards per carry for 753 yards on 180 attempts for Jim Harbaugh's Wolverine's last season. Ty Isaac should also help carry the load and improve upon his 205 yards racked up last season.

9) Ke'Shawn Vaughn, University of Illinois

Martin was the rock of the Illinois offense with 4.6 yards per carry for 723 yards on 157 attempts.

10) Shannon Brooks, University of Minnesota

Brooks averaged 6 yards per carry for 709 yards on 119 attempts for the Golden Gopher last season.

Insertname has some more to add:

Shannon Brooks (So) is 1a, Rodney Smith (rSo) is 1b. They should be Minnesota's most electric rb duo since maroney and barber. They should be able to more than replace Cobb's senior year unless the line is completely broken again.

11) LJ Scott, Michigan State University

Scott's contributed 699 yards on 146 attempts for 4.8 yards per carry. Who can forget Scott pushing his way into the endzone in Indianapolis?! I'll let Andrew Kraszewski tell you more:

At RB, MSU returns all 4 guys from last year, none of whom got much separation as the clear standout. True sophomore to be L.J. Scott has the highest ceiling of the 4, but I love the violence Gerald Holmes runs with, and Madre London was the opening-day starter before injury slowed him down. Delton Williams rounds out the group, but personally, I didn't see him as much more than a change of pace power back. I'd expect Scott and Holmes to get the most touches, but the number of options might mean none of MSU's guys stick out as All-B1G types

12) Leshun Daniels, Jr, University of Iowa

Daniels rushed for 646 yards on 145 attempts for 4.5 yards per carry. My Iowa colleagues have more:


LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley are back and should both challenge for 1000 yards. Daniels is more of a power back, but with deceptive speed and agility. Wadley has excellent vision and a killer spin move. If he can keep his weight up, he'll finally get the trust of the coaches and could have as massive year.


If LeShun Daniels can stay healthy and figure it all out, he can be the every-down back Iowa has missed since at least 2011. As Stew said, Wadley might be the better back in many ways, but he's got to earn the full trust of the coaches. First he had fumbling problems, and now it's his weight. Also, Derrick Mitchell seems to have settled into the 3rd-down back role. Lastly, Iowa has to replace its fullback. A part-time role to be sure, but Daniels runs better when following a lead blocker. In short, I'm tentatively optimistic about the position group (barring AIRBHG)

13) Wes Brown, University of Maryland

Last season in a reserve role Brown contributed 317 yards for 71 attempts for 4.5 yards per carry. DJ Carver has more:

Maryland will have a duo of Trey Edmunds, a senior grad transfer from VT, and sophomore Ty Johnson running the show this year barring Wes Brown being brought back from his indefinite suspension. They should form a solid duo out of the backfield while the three freshmen RBs this year come in to compete for the 3rd RB spot. Maryland is young at the position other than Edmunds but Johnson is an absolute burner out of the backfield. If he can put a bit of muscle on to shed some tackles he may surprise some people.

14) Curtis Samuel, Ohio State University

Last season OSU reserver Samuel contributed 132 yards averaging 7.8 yards on 17 attempts. There's not much to do when you're behind Ezekiel Elliot and the rest of the Buckeyes high powered offense. I'll let G43 add more:

I miss Zeke