There is a new leader atop our list of the best running backs in the SEC as a freshman phenom has overtaken a savvy veteran.
Aside from Georgia’s Nick Chubb, it was a tough week for the conference’s established tailbacks as Leonard Fournette, Jalen Hurd and Stanley “Boom” Williams gave way to several up-and-coming faces.
Here’s how the SEC running backs rank after Week 6 of action in the conference:
10. DERRIUS GUICE, LSU
Last week: Postponed
Season: 402 yards, 4 TDs, 46 ATT, 8.7 YPC, 80.4 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 8 (-2)
Why he’s here: Leonard Fournette’s prolonged absence because of an ankle injury, combined with the emergence of Derrius Guice makes it difficult to keep the LSU running back on the list. If Fournette gets healthy, he likely not only gets back on the list, but rises quite quickly. But until then, Fournette’s being left in the dust by the SEC’s other tailbacks — including his own teammate, Guice. The sophomore is only 5 yards shy of passing Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd for ninth overall in the SEC, despite carrying the ball 55 fewer times. Southern Mississippi is up next for the Tigers and should provide either Fournette or Guice — depending on health — an opportunity to post some impressive numbers.
9. JALEN HURD, Tennessee
Last week: Injured
Season: 407 yards, 2 TDs, 101 ATT, 4.0 YPC, 81.4 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 7 (-2)
Why he’s here: Jalen Hurd’s monster Week 5 performance against Georgia was tempered a week later by a lower extremity injury and the enormous game from his backup, Alvin Kamara — who rushed for 127 yards and led the SEC in receiving with 161 yards against Texas A&M. If Hurd sits in Week 7 against Alabama and Kamara steps up once again, it’s certainly possible the two switch spots on this list.
8. DAMIEN HARRIS, Alabama
Last week: 122 yards, 13 ATT, 9.4 YPC
Season: 478 yards, TD, 55 ATT, 8.7 YPC, 79.7 YPG
Last week’s rank: N/A (+3)
Why he’s here: Damien Harris registered his third 100-yard effort of the season, this time burning a tough Arkansas defense for 122 yards in the Crimson Tide win. The performance not only landed the sophomore back on this list after one week off it, but vaulted him three spots to No. 8. Harris’ 8.7 YPC is second-best in the SEC, but his lack of touchdowns — just 1 — keeps him lower on the list until he can pad his scoring stats.
7. STANLEY “BOOM” WILLIAMS, Kentucky
Last week: 54 yards, 9 ATT, 6.0 YPC
Season: 540 yards, 2 TDs, 76 ATT, 7.1 YPC, 90.0 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 5 (-2)
Why he’s here: Stanley “Boom” Williams had a chance to out-shine the SEC’s top running back entering Week 6 when Kentucky played host to Ralph Webb and Vanderbilt. The Wildcats got the win, but Williams managed just 54 yards on 9 carries — including a dubious fumble in the third quarter that was scooped up and taken into the end zone by Commodores cornerback Taurean Ferguson. Despite the off-game, in which teammate Benny Snell Jr. stole the show out of the Kentucky backfield with 94 yards, Williams’ 540 yards on the year rank him No. 5 in the SEC.
6. NICK CHUBB, Georgia
Last week: 121 yards, 2 TDs, 16 ATT, 7.6 YPC
Season: 546 yards, 5 TDS, 100 ATT, 5.5 YPC, 91.0 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 9 (+3)
Why he’s here: A week ago, Nick Chubb was in danger of dropping off this list. After Week 6 against South Carolina, however, the Georgia running back appears to be back to his old form. Chubb rushed for his first 100-yard game since Week 1 and found the end zone after a four-game hiatus. When healthy, Chubb is arguably the best in the SEC and now sits at No. 4 in the conference in total rushing yards.
5. KAMRYN PETTWAY, Auburn
Last week: 169 yards, 3 TDs, 39 ATT, 4.3 YPC
Season: 505 yards, 4 TDs, 91 ATT, 5.6 YPC, 101.0 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 10 (+5)
Why he’s here: In Week 5, it was Kamryn Pettway on the Auburn sidelines nursing a bruised quad muscle. As a result, backfield mate Kerryon Johnson exploded for 146 yards and a pair of scores. A week later, the roles reversed after the ailing Johnson left the Tigers’ Week 6 matchup against Mississippi State. Pettway capitalized with a career-high 169 yards and the first multiple-touchdown game of his career. The effort makes Pettway one of four SEC running backs to average more than 100 yard per game.
4. KERRYON JOHNSON, Auburn
Last week: 21 yards, 3 ATT, 7.0 YPC
Season: 538 yards, 6 TDs, 105 ATT, 5.1 YPC, 89.67 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 2 (-2)
Why he’s here: Kerryon Johnson appeared to be en route to a big game in Week 6 against Mississippi State before an ankle injury on Auburn’s second possession shelved the sophomore after just 3 carries. Despite the disappointing week, Johnson still leads all SEC running backs with 6 rushing touchdowns (Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight tops the conference with 9 scores on the ground). Without Johnson’s yardage, Auburn slipped to No. 2 in the SEC in team rushing behind the aforementioned Aggies (274.3 YPG to 262.8 YPG).
3. RAWLEIGH WILLIAMS, Arkansas
Last week: 46 yards, TD, 12 ATT, 3.8 YPC
Season: 605 yards, 5 TDs, 113 ATT, 5.4 YPC, 100.8 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 3 (-)
Why he’s here: Alabama held Rawleigh Williams III to his lowest rushing total on the year during Arkansas’ Week 6 loss to the Crimson Tide. Williams did manage to find the end zone for the fifth time this season, but well after the game was out of hand in the fourth quarter. The score, however, ties the sophomore with four other SEC running backs for second-best in the conference. He remains one of the SEC’s biggest workhorses with 113 attempts, behind only Ralph Webb of Vanderbilt.
2. RALPH WEBB, Vanderbilt
Last week: 100 yards, 18 ATT, 5.6 YPC
Season: 682 yards, 5 TDs, 136 ATT, 5.0 YPC, 113.7 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 1 (-1)
Why he’s here: Ralph Webb rushed for his second consecutive 100-yard performance in Week 6, but it wasn’t enough to keep his hold atop our list of the best running backs in the SEC. It was the ninth time in his career that the junior has hit the century mark. Webb’s 682 yards rank him No. 5 in the nation among Power-5 running backs. He now needs just 397 yards to supplant Zac Stacy as the leading rusher in Commodores history.
1. TRAYVEON WILLIAMS, Texas A&M
Last week: 217 yards, TD, 18 ATT, 7.8 YPG
Season: 704 yards, 5 TDs, 82 ATT, 8.6 YPC, 117.3 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 4 (+3)
Why he’s here: It’s time for everyone to start acknowledging the season that Trayveon Williams is compiling for Texas A&M. The freshman took over the SEC lead for rushing in Week 7, courtesy of a 217-yard effort against a Tennessee defense that entered the contest yielding an average of 163.2 YPG. The effort gives him the national lead for rushing among freshman, edging Ohio State’s Mike Weber (566 yards, 113.2 YPG). The lone blemish on his afternoon was a true freshman moment when Williams had the potential winning touchdown knocked out of his hand late in the game. When he learns to hold onto the ball more tightly, there might not be any stopping the Aggies running back sensation.
DROPPED OFF THE LIST
Leonard Fournette, LSU
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR (NEXT 10)
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
Sony Michel, Georgia
Benny Snell Jr., Vanderbilt
Brian Herrien, Georgia
Joshua Jacobs, Alabama
Akeem Judd, Ole Miss
A.J. Turner, South Carolina
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
Ish Witter, Missouri