Monday, April 4, 2011

My Personal Favorite Returnees for 2011-RB Edition

Last week, I started to grade my personal favorite returning players for the 2011 season in FBS, FCS and D2 football with the QB position. It was also a celebration of my 750th post since July of last year. Tonight I continue that series with my RB edition of this series. That being said, I hope that you enjoy my look at the best returning RBs (in my opinion) for the 2011 season.


LaMichael James, Junior-Oregon
James was the best back in America last season, and was a main component as to how Oregon got to the national championship game. His 1731 yards and 21 TDs were amazing marks that even he may have trouble matching in 2011. It will be interesting to see how he responds to losing the title game to Auburn, and how Oregon responds as a whole as to what they must consider as unfinished business. Think about this...what if he actually improves on those numbers?

Bobby Rainey, Senior-Western Kentucky
I've never heard of him, and you've never seen WKU play a game. Probably true on both counts, but Rainey is a gem. As WKU continued into it's spiral of suckage, Rainey was a machine, and is the only reason why you would ever watch this team play. Rainey finished 5th in the nation in rushing yardage in 2010 with 1649 yards, an average of 137.42, just around 7 yards per game fewer than James. He's a human youtube video, so catch him if you can.

Lance Dunbar, Sr.-North Texas
Again, I go with a guy that you have not seen play, and it's another Sun Belt player. Dunbar is fantastic, but plays on a terrible football team. Here's the thing. Dunbar rushed for 1553 yards and 13 TDs on a pass happy football team. When Todd Dodge was fired, and the Eagles went to a more balanced offense, UNT actually improved with Dunbar carrying the load. With Dunbar becoming the focal point in 2011, UNT may wind up being one of the more improved teams in the country.

Ronnie Hillman, So.-San Diego State
Hell must be freezing over. I have ranked a QB and a RB in the top toer bracket from SDSU in the same season. That's a reflection on what BRady Hoke did for this program. Hoke moves on, but the talented Hillman remains, and he may have a field day over most teams in the Mountain West. Only Boise State and TCU have the means to stop him in 2011, but Hillman will not have to face TCU in 2012 as a junior. Will be the best overall RB in the MWC.

Marcus Lattimore, So.-South Carolina
So often, super preps never pan out to be who we want them to be. Lattimore was everything he could be and more, practically carrying the Gamecocks on his shoulders to the SEC East title. Lattimore is one fantastic player, and he finally gives Steve Spurrier the offensive weapon that he has always longed for since arriving in Columbia. He rushed for 1197 yards and 17 TDs as a freshman. Those numbers will get better, barring injury, in 2011.

Montee Ball, Jr.-Wisconsin
Ball was a beast around the endzone in 2011, and he finished with 18 TDs to his credit desite only rushing for 996 yards on the season. To put it in perspective, he rushed for 996 yards as the second option to John Clay, who left early for the NFL. With Clay out of the way, Ball has a chance to put his stamp on becoming the best RB in the Big 10 in 2011. He's that good.

Vick Ballard, Sr.-Mississippi State
Sure he only rushed for 981 yards in 2010, but did you see him score? How did you miss it? Ballard rushed for an eye popping 20 TDs in 2010, and you could not keep him from plunging in with a brick wall. Ballard is the bully of the endzone, and Dan Mullen loves giving him the rock in short yardage and scoring scenarios. Goes to show that Mullen is a very good and smart coach. All Ballard does is score, and he'll be doing more of the same for the Bulldogs next fall as a senior.

Zach Line, SMU; Chris Polk, Washington; Knile Davis, Arkansas; Rodney Stewart, Colorado; Doug Martin, Boise State; Montel Harris, Boston College; Edwin Baker, Michigan State; Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech; Stevan Ridley, LSU; Stepfan Taylor, Stanford


Nate Eachus, Sr.-Colgate
The reigning All-Bilo RB of the Year returns for his senior season for the Red Raiders of Colgate. Eachus was amazing in 2010, rushing for 1871 yards and 22 TDs as the focal point of the Colgate attack. Unfortunately, it was still not enough to get to the FCS playoffs, as Colgate finished 7-4 and tied for second in the Patriot League. It will be the mission of Eachus to move Colgate up in 2011.

Eric Breitenstein, Sr.-Wofford
Think a poor man's John Riggins, and you have this guy down. Breitenstein is a throwback fan's dream player. He's grimey and gritty, and he just gets the damned job done. He rushed for 1639 yards and an FCS leading 22 TDs in 2010 as the Fullback in Wofford's wishbone attack. The mission for 2011? Keep the option attack moving upwards, beat Appalachian State, and advance in the FCS playoffs. No sneaking up on anyone anymore, as Breitenstein will have a target on his back. All-Bilo national 1st teamer.

DJ McNorton, Sr.-North Dakota State
McNorton is a beast, and he placed the Bison on his shoulders and carried the team to the FCS final 4 before falling to national champ Eastern Washington by a lousy 7 points. McNorton is a major key to getting the Bison back into position to make another run in 2011. He is coming off of a junior season in which he rushed for 1559 yards, good for 111 yards per game, and 15 TDs. Look for more heroics and a playoff return in 2011.

Andrew Pierce, So.-Delaware
2010 was a treat of a season for really great young backs on all levels. Pierce was one of the best freshmen to grace this position in all of D1 football in 2010, and I truly believe that he could have started for many FBS teams as well. Pierce became as much a focal point of the Blue Hens offense as star QB Pat devlin was, and he ate up the opportunity to shine all the way to the FCS finals. As a freshman, Pierce rushed for 1655 yards and 14 TDs. Just think about what he can do with some time to develop...

Nick Schweiger, Sr.-Dartmouth
Schweiger finished 6th in the FCS in yards per game with 125.89. That's pretty solid when you consider that the Big Green only finished the season at 6-4. Schweiger will still be the focal point of the Dartmouth offense in 2011, but it remains to be seen if the Green can improve in the win loss area. No matter what, Schweiger will keep it interesting, and if he has to, he'll take the lead in making this team better.

Larry McCoy, Jr.-Duquesne
McCoy is an interesting player. He rushed for 1291 yards in 2010, as the Dukes finshed 7-4, but he was not in the position to score very often, finishing with just 6 TDs. He makes this list, because the potential for stardem is there, if Duquesne as an offense can get him into better position for more success. There is no reason to doubt that McCoy can repeat his heroics of last season, and finish with double digit TDs as well in 2011. Lots of potential here.

Cory McCaffery, Sr.-Portland State
The vikings were horrible in 2010, only finishing 2-9 in Nigel Burton's first season as head coach, but the schedule was a meat grinder, as PSU had to play Oregon, Arizona State, and a bevy of postseason performers. You can't blame any of it on McCaffery, who busted his ass to the tune of 1287 yards, good for 117 per game, and 10 scores. As Portland State rebuilds, it will be on the shoulders of this senior to be, and he wants the rock, and we want it in his hands.

Jamaine Cook, Youngstown State; Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook, Mike Harris, Murray State; Marcus Wright, Texas Southern; Bryan Hilliard, Sacramento State; Zach Bauman, Northern Arizona; Chris Douglas,  Missouri State; Orenzo Davis, Montana State; Brock Jackolski, Stony Brook; Brandon Colavita, Penn


Franklin Quiteh, So.-Bloomsburg
Quiteh was a freshman phenom for the Huskies in 2010, as he rushed for an astronomical 2015 yards and 22 TDs. This is again the point where I ask you to imagine what he is capable of when he has time to develop more. The Huskies had no problems riding his wave to a 10-3 season and aplayoff birth. Expect nothing but good times from this young man in 2011, if he can evade being targeted every single week, as he is sure to be.

Joe Glendening, Jr.-Hillsdale
The Chargers got a huge charge out of having Glendening carry a great big load in 2010, as Hillsdale finished 9-3 after a 1st round playoff loss at the hands of St. Cloud State. Glendening had a sterling junior season, as he rushed for 1483 yards and 15 scores. Hillsdale will likely get a repeat performance as they try to ride out Glendening's senior season with yet another playoff run, hopefully one that beats last fall.

Akeem Satterfield, Jr.-Slippery Rock
The Rockets had a tough season in 2010, but Satterfield is a beacon of hope for one of my favorite programs in D2. Slippery rock dropped their 4 of their last 5 games in 2010, the final two losses by a combined 8 points, so there is some contention that they can improve a great deal over their 2010 shortcomings. Satterfield will be a key to that process, as he rushed for 1352 yards and an awe inspiring 20 TDs last fall. As Satterfield runs, The Rock runs with him.

Jesse Lewis, Sr.-Colorado State-Pueblo
The Thunderwolves have a gem in Lewis, who rushed for 1391 yards and 14 TDs in 2010. He averaged 139.1 yards per game in last fallm good enough for 3rd in D2 for the year. CSU-Pueblo is still a very young program, but finished 9-2, and Lewis was much to thank for that offensively. With one more season under his belt, the Wolves could push for a conference title in 2011.

Jonas Randolph, Sr.-Mars Hill
The Lions may have finished 5-6 in 2010, but it was no fault of the dynamic Randolph, who rushed for 1349 yards and 13 TDs. His 122.64 yards per game were good for 10th in D2 last fall, so if Mars Hill can put anyone around him for support, they may be able to surprise some folks in 2011. If they don't, Randolph will still look good while the team falls apart around him.

David Carter, Jr.-Morehouse
Another great young back in college football's 2010 stable. Carter was one of the best sophs in 2010, as he busted loose for 1347 yards and 10 TDs while the Maroon Tigers finished 8-3. One thing that the Tigers can do is score, as they scored 30 or more points 7 times in 2010. The offense started to run out of gas at the end of the season, as Morehouse was held to 17 against Clark, and 13 against Miles, but they won both games before getting shredded by Wingate in the finale. Carter will be the key cog in keeping this offense fluid in 2011.

Daronte McNeill, Jr.-Elizabeth City State
The vikings finished 6-4, but they did boast one of the better young backs in college football in McNeill, a sophomore in 2010. McNeill cruised to 1321 yards and 10 TDs as he tried in vain to keep the Vikings afloat. If ECSU is going to reach more wins in 2011, it's going to come from the hard work of this young man. Hopefully, they can put enough talent around him to keep him from becoming bogged down when teams stack the line to try to stop him. You know they'll try.

Tommy Addison, Shepherd; Lyndon Rowells, Humboldt State; Josh Renel, Wayne State (MI); Josh Birmingham, Central Oklahoma; Nicholas Cooper, Winston-Salem State; Brian Kennedy, Concord; Lamont Smith, California (PA); Victor Jones, New Haven; Vershon Moore, Washburn; Kale Gelles, Harding

Coming Tomorrow: My Favorite Returnees for 2011-WR Edition

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