We are moving right along with our position rankings. Now it’s time to find out who are the ACC’s 5 best running backs for 2013.
1) Duke Johnson, Miami
When you break Miami’s school freshman rushing record previously held by Clinton Portis, you are a special player. Duke Johnson as a freshman ran for 947 yard on just 139 carries. That’s nearly 7 yards a run. He has great vision, nice speed, and can catch passes out of the backfield. He’s the total package at RB. If he can handle a heavier workload he’s a future All-American.
2) Jerome Smith, Syracuse
Our first entry from a new ACC member Syracuse or Pittsburgh. Jerome Smith is coming off a season where he had over 1100 yards rushing with a nice 5.2 yards per carry average. Smith is not especially fast, but is excellent between the tackles with good power. ACC fans need to get familiar with this talented running back.
3) James Wilder Jr., Florida State
James Wilder along with Devonta Freeman will form arguably the best 1-2 backfield in the ACC. I gave Wilder the edge because his athleticism is off the charts. CBSSports called him one of the 20 best athletes in college football. He averaged nearly 6 yards a carry last season on 635 rushing yards, and I have a feeling we haven’t seen the best from James Wilder Jr.
4) Kevin Parks, Virginia
Kevin Parks is one of the leading returning runners in the ACC. He finished 4th in the ACC last season with 734 yards on the ground. I like Parks obviously, but waiting in the wings is highly rated recruit Taquan Mizzel. You may see Mizzel on this list in the future.
5) Shadrach Thornton, NC State
If not for Miami freshman Duke Johnson, Shardrach Thornton might have been the freshman RB everyone would be talking about. Thornton missed the Wolfpack’s first three games and still had 694 yards for 4.5 yds a rush. The versatile Thornton also had 30 catches in 2012. A physical runner, let’s see what Thornton can do with a full slate of games.