AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football has a wealth of experience and potential at running back for the 2017 season, and one national writer thinks that gives the Tigers one of the nation’s best units.
Sports on Earth’s Matt Brown unveiled his top 25 positional unit rankings for the 2017 college football season on Tuesday. Auburn came in at No. 12 with the running backs.
“Ideally, the addition of Baylor transfer QB Jarrett Stidham should expand the Auburn passing game and, thus, open even more room for the fantastic tailback duo of Kamryn Pettway (1,224 yards in 10 games) and Kerryon Johnson (895 yards),” Brown wrote.
Pettway, who led the SEC in rushing yards per game last season, has picked up some preseason Heisman Trophy buzz for 2017. Brown recently ranked Pettway as the No. 4 running back in college football.
“The powerful Pettway has played some fullback, but he has now firmly established himself as a star SEC running back, one who had over 100 yards seven times, including 236 against Ole Miss,” Brown wrote. “When he gets any room, he’s a load to bring down, a punishing runner with quickness.”
The versatile Johnson figures to be a bigger part of the Tigers’ game plan this season with the arrival of Stidham and new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. Brown also mentioned the upside the Tigers have in their underclassmen at running back.
“There’s potential depth at RB with sophomores Malik Miller and Kam Martin and freshman Davan Barrett, but the Tigers already know they have standouts in the powerful Pettway and the versatile Johnson,” Brown wrote.
Brown also put Auburn’s offensive line as an honorable mention for the top 25 on Tuesday.
Auburn running backs’ spot at No. 12 on Brown’s list made them the fourth-best group at that position behind Alabama, Penn State and Georgia.
College football analyst Phil Steele ranked Auburn’s running backs at No. 6 in the country in his preseason magazine. The Tigers are behind the same three as Brown in Steele’s preview, which also places LSU and Oregon ahead of them.