Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 College Football: Top Ten Returning RBs

A few weeks ago, I posted the top ten QBs returning for the 2015 season. We now move on to take a look at the top returning backs for 2015 as we hit the 100 day mark until the start of the 2015 season. Here are the best and most impactful backs returning for the upcoming year:

Kareem Hunt, Toledo
With so many top tier backs leaving after the 2014 season, Hunt is the best returning back in the nation. Hunt made head coach Matt Campbell a happy camper last fall, as the Rockets enjoyed a season in which Hunt rushed for 1631 yards and 16 TDs on the year, and averaged 7.96 yards per carry. He averaged 163 yards per game last season, and could key a Toledo run in the MAC title chase.

Devon Johnson, Marshall
Johnson returns from a solid season after he rushed for 1767 yards and led the Herd to their best season in their FBS era. Johnson scored 17 TDs on the year on the ground, and averaged 8.58 yards per carry,and 135.92 yards per game. Johnson, a senior, may also be one of the most important players in the country, as Marshall may likely lean on him more as they break in a new QB to replace the departed Rakeem Cato. I'm guessing that we should see his carries per game average increase from 15.85 to somewhere closer to 20 to 22.

James Connor, Pittsburgh
Connor is a monster on legs while running between the tackles for the Pitt Panthers. The Panthers will have a new coach after Paul Chryst left for Wisconsin, and Connor will be a center piece under the new regime. He rushed for 1765 yards, 26 TDs, and a 5.92 YPC average, all while carrying the ball just under 23 times per game. Look for more of the same in 2015.

Jordan Howard, Indiana (UAB Transfer)
Howard was a beast for UAB in their final season, and will replace a record breaking back in Tevin Coleman at IU after Coleman entered the draft. There should be no fall back with Howard in place for the Hoosiers, and he will get the rock plenty. Howard rushed for 1587 yards, 13 TDs, and 5.19 YPC on 25.5 carries per game. He's a workhorse, but can he take Indiana bowling?

Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Prine is one of the most exciting young players in the game, rushing for 1713 yards as a freshman, while scoring 21 TDs and averaged 6.51 yards per carry. Perine carried just over 20 times per game, and with Trevor Knight's inconsistencies at QB, they should rely on Perine plenty this fall.

Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
If the Buckeyes weren't fortunate enough with their riches at QB, they return Elliott at RB. Elliott drove the Buckeyes in the national time in particular. Elliott rushed for 1878 yards and 18 scores on the season. He averaged 6.88 yards per carry, and is a huge part of the Buckeyes 2015 title run.

Paul Perkins, UCLA
Perkins gave the Bruins legitimacy at the RB position last fall, and rushed for 1575 yards on the season and averaged over 6 yards per carry while scoring 9 times. With Brett Hundley gone at QB, Perkins should see more opportunities to score this season, and should see an uptick in carries.

Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Franklin is yet another MAC monster returning in 2015. Franklin was a key member of a Bronco team that came out of nowhere for coach PJ Fleck in 2014. Franklin rushed for 1551 yards and 24 TDs last season, averaging 5.07 YPC. Franklin is a key to an offense that could actually carry the improving Broncos to a top 25 ranking by the end of this season.

Nick Chubb, Georgia
I was just talking over dinner with my good friend last week who is from Georgia, and we both agreed that Georgia will not miss a beat with Chubb replacing Gurley over the course of a full season for the Bulldogs. Chubb is a rising star, and should force his way into the Heisman discussion this year or next. With the Dawgs looking for offensive firepower this season, Chubb will be vital. He rushed for 1547 yards and 14 scores as a freshman last fall.

Leon Allen, Western Kentucky
WKU lost Bobby Rainey a couple of years ago, and yet They landed another monster in Allen, who rushed for 1542 yards and 13 scores last fall. WKU is running for the Sun Belt title in 2015, and Allen should be a key cog in that run in 2015.

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