College football has changed. Long gone are the days of Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker, when running backs dominated college football.
In fact, in the last 15 years only two running backs have won the Heisman trophy. 2005′s Reggie Bush (which has been technically vacated) and 2009′s Mark Ingram.
Today is the world of running back platoons, hybrid running backs, 5 foot-7 inch slot receiver/running backs; No one is getting the rock more than 10 times a game.
Hardly enough carries to get warmed up.
In order for a running back to win the Heisman in 2014, a couple of things have to happen first.
1) There cannot be a clear Heisman type QB in the playoffs.
Quarterbacks control too much of the offense these days, and if your pulling for a RB for the Heisman, you want the top teams field general to be a game manager, not a gun-slinger.
2) One of the running backs below must be used as the first option in the offense. A Wisconsin, Nebraska or Georgia or Alabama must choose to ride their horse, and ride him all the way to the house.
One of these teams will have to put the ball in their running backs hands more than 20 times a game.
Looking over the stats from Bush and Ingram I made a “Heisman Average” for the running back positon:
AVERAGE HEISMAN STATS: Attempts (235), Yards (1699), Yards per Attempt (7.4) and Touchdowns (16.5)
Using the same scientific method as my Quarterback article, we copy and paste the 2013 stats into excel, hit enter and we get the MakeItRainSports Heisman Trophy Front Runners – Running Back Edition.
No. 1: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin (Rated 2.33)
Melvin Gordon looks like a slam-dunk Heisman running back. Not only did he finish with 1,609 yards last year, he is on a team that loves to run the ball. Wisconsin ran the ball 557 times last year! Gordon had 206 attempts and had to split time with Senior James White, who had 221 carries.
2014 looks to be a big opportunity for Gordon and Wisconsin. Can they avoid the early season loss and stay in the media spotlight all year? Melvin Gordon is a name to remember.
No. 2: TJ Yeldon, Alabama (Rated 3.67)
Yeldon has the superstar look. Long and lean, fast but durable. Alabama just seems to have this guy on the team every year.
With Derrick Henry and other NFL stars-in-waiting right behind TJ, it is hard to imagine Saban really centering his offense around any one player. But you have to expect that losing AJ McCarron to the NFL will force more handoffs.
If TJ can take control of this team early, show he can be a Reggie Bush type player, you may see a run-away Heisman trophy run in Title Town.
No. 3: Ameer Adbullah, Nebraska (Rated 4.0)
Adbullah is a monster running back on a forgotten team. Nebraska is somewhat stuck in neutral and will have a hard time being an elite team in 2014. An unproven QB and road trips to Michigan State and Wisconsin will probably prevent Abdullah from seeing New York city but you have to admire his talent.
In 281 carries and 1,690 yards he is a ball running machine. Husker fans are hoping for some magic to get this team to a championship and perhaps a Heisman for Ameer.
No. 4: Karlos Williams, Florida State (Rated 4.67)
If the Seminoles make it to the playoffs this year, you can almost forget Karlos Williams getting the trophy, as all the talk will be about star quarterback Jameis Winston. But don’t forget what Williams can do.
Finishing with 14 touchdowns in only 173 carries, is impressive. I don’t expect him to get much more work in 2014, but he is a player worth keeping on your watch list.
No. 5 (tie): Todd Gurley, Georgia (Rated 5.67)
The loss of QB Aaron Murray will certainly hurt Gurley’s chances of playing on a championship level team and thus missing out on the attention he deserves, because Gurley is arguably the best running back in America.
In 2014, expect Georgia to get back to their roots and run the ball much more. Can Gurley carry this team to the first ever college football playoffs? He will certainly get his chance.
Gurley finished 2013 with 989 yards in only 165 carries.
I can’t wait to see what he does with 250 carries!
No. 5 (tie): Mike Davis, South Carolina (Rated 5.67)
In todays college football, a Heisman winning running back must be literally all over the field. 2014′s Gamecock’s are expected to be more pass happy and if Dylan Thompson is the quarterback you can also expect less running plays by the QB position.
Davis could potentially be the featured back and should Spurrier pass the ball more this year, Davis should be able to get more receiving yards as well.