Strong defenses bested many of the SEC’s top running backs in Week 10, leading to mediocre and subpar efforts for the likes of LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Alabama’s Damien Harris and Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb.
That opened the door for several other young backs to step up and assert themselves as one sophomore continues to dominate the conference.
We break down the top 10 running backs in the SEC with three weeks to play in the regular season.
10. DAMAREA CROCKETT, Missouri
Stats vs. South Carolina: 82 yards, TD, 13 ATT, 6.3 YPC
Season: 683 yards, 8 TDs, 109 ATT, 6.3 YPC, 75.9 YPG
Last week’s rank: N/R
Why he’s here: Crockett is back on the list after a week’s hiatus. The Missouri freshman returned to form against South Carolina with his first touchdown since scoring 4 times two weeks ago against Middle Tennessee. Crockett is one of the few bright spots on a struggling Tigers squad, especially when you consider his 8 touchdowns on the year trail only Benny Snell Jr. of Kentucky and Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson for most among league RBs.
9. TRAYVEON WILLIAMS, Texas A&M
Stats vs. Mississippi State: 28 yards, 10 ATT, 2.8 YPC
Season: 804 yards, 6 TDs, 109 ATT, 7.4 YPC, 89.3 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 8 (-1)
Why he’s here: Williams has tumbled in the rankings after rising to as high as No. 1 on this list. Three straight weeks of 23, 49 and 28 yards have caused him to cede his lead among freshmen running backs to Ohio State’s Mike Weber. Another poor week and it’s very likely that the Texas A&M tailback falls off the list completely.
8. KERRYON JOHNSON, Auburn
Stats vs. Vanderbilt: 36 yards, TD, 9 ATT, 4.0 YPC
Season: 616 yards, 9 TDs, 125 ATT, 4.9 YPC, 77.0 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 10 (+2)
Why he’s here: Johnson’s ankle injury appears to be behind him as the Auburn sophomore found the end zone for the third time in the last two games. His 9 scores on the year rank him second overall among SEC running backs, giving him a small edge over teammate Kamryn Pettway (7). All told, the duo has the Tigers ranked No. 3 in the nation in rushing offense (299.8 YPG) behind New Mexico and Army. If Pettway’s injury causes him to miss any time, Auburn’s production shouldn’t fall off very much.
7. DAMIEN HARRIS, Alabama
Stats vs. LSU: 53 yards, 12 ATT, 4.4 YPC
Season: 753 yards, TD, 98 ATT, 7.7 YPC, 83.3 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 6 (-1)
Why he’s here: We want to rank Harris much higher on the list, but his 1 rushing TD really hurts his rankability (and makes us use non-words such as “rankability”). The sophomore is third in the SEC, a mere percentage points behind Tennessee’s John Kelly and LSU’s Derrius Guice, for most yards per carry, but loses out in the red zone to quarterback Jalen Hurts (10 TDs) and tailback Bo Scarbrough (5 TDs) when it comes to finding the end zone.
6. STANLEY “BOOM” WILLIAMS, Kentucky
Stats vs. Georgia: 77 yards, TD, 14 ATT, 5.5 YPC
Season: 898 yards, 4 TDs, 123 ATT, 7.3 YPC, 99.8 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 4 (-2)
Why he’s here: An apparent shoulder injury in the first quarter against Georgia might have cost Williams a chance to push his season average above 100 yards on the year. Williams returned to the game, fortunately, and now sits fourth overall in the SEC in rushing — even though teammate Benny Snell Jr. had a bigger game.
5. BENNY SNELL JR., Kentucky
Stats vs. Georgia: 114 yards, 2 TDs, 21 ATT, 5.4 YPC
Season: 775 yards, 10 TDs, 139 ATT, 5.6 YPC, 86.1 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 9 (+4)
Why he’s here: Snell Jr. leapfrogs teammate Boom Williams in the rankings, thanks in large part to his third-straight 100-yard game, in which he’s averaged 144.7 YPG. More importantly, the freshman finds the end zone with greater frequency than Williams. Snell’s 10 touchdowns on the year are tops among all SEC running backs and tie him with quarterbacks Trevor Knight of Texas A&M and Alabama’s Jalen Hurts for the league lead.
4. RALPH WEBB, Vanderbilt
Stats vs. Auburn: 46 yards, 13 ATT, 3.5 YPC
Season: 901 yards, 6 TDs, 177 ATT, 5.1 YPC, 100.1 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 3 (-1)
Why he’s here: Webb sustained his worst game of the season in Week 10 against an Auburn defense that limits running backs to 125.9 YPG and the second-fewest touchdowns in the SEC. The Vanderbilt junior is still one of just three conference tailbacks to average more than 100 yards per game. He’s just 184 yards away from passing Zac Stacy as the Commodores’ all-time leading rusher.
3. LEONARD FOURNETTE, LSU
Stats vs. Alabama: 35 yards, 17 ATT, 2.1 YPC
Season: 705 yards, 5 TDs, 100 ATT, 7.1 YPC, 141.0 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 2 (-1)
Why he’s here: Fournette gets somewhat of the benefit of the doubt after facing the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense in Alabama. That said, we would have liked to see him step up, especially after being rather vocal about LSU’s chances of beating the Crimson Tide in Week 10. That said, the junior still would lead the SEC in yards-per-game if he had the requisite amount of carries to qualify — despite his first sub-100-yard game of the year and first time in nine games dating back to last year.
2. RAWLEIGH WILLIAMS III, Arkansas
Stats vs. Florida: 148 yards, 2 TDs, 26 ATT, 5.7 YPC
Season: 955 yards, 7 TDs, 179 ATT, 5.3 YPC, 106.1 YPG
Last week’s rank: No. 5 (+3)
Why he’s here: Williams gets the nod over Fournette based on an unconventional tiebreaker: performance against Alabama. Williams posted 46 yards and touchdown against the staunch Crimson Tide defense while Fournette managed only 35. Williams torched the SEC’s second best run defense in Week 10, cruising for his fifth 100-yard game of the season to vault himself into second in the conference in rushing.
1. KAMRYN PETTWAY, Auburn
Stats vs. Vanderbilt: 173 yards, 25 ATT, 6.9 YPC
Season: 1,106 yards, 7 TDs, 173 ATT, 6.4 YPC, 138.3 YPG
Last week’s rank: No 1 (no change)
Why he’s here: Pettway became the first running back in the SEC to reach the 1,000-yard plateau in 2016, courtesy of his fourth straight game with at least 150 yards — the first Auburn player to do that since Bo Jackson in 1985. The sophomore “pulled something,” however, late in the game, creating concerns about his health going forward.
DROPPED OFF THE LIST
- Derrius Guice, LSU
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR (NEXT 10)
- Derrius Guice, LSU
- Sony Michel, Georgia
- Nick Chubb, Georgia
- Akeem Judd, Ole Miss
- Jordan Scarlett, Florida
- Josh Jacobs, Alabama
- Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
- Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
- Khari Blasingame, Vanderbilt
- Ish Witter, Missouri