Bryant’s Beehive: Top Five RBs in Midseason Form
September 28th, 2012 By De'Angelo Bryant
Former ACC running back De’Angelo Bryant presents his top five midseason performers at the running back position in this edition of Bryant’s Beehive.
Since his freshman season I have always admired Lattimore’s running-style. With the new age of the shifty, speedy, and flashy running backs that’s warranted for zone-spread offenses, it could have been easily suggested Lattimore wasn’t a good fit for HC Steve Spurrier’s pass happy offenses. Lattimore presents a great mixture of downhill running with enough shiftiness to make defenders miss in the open field. Throughout his career he has been one of the best red zone runners in the country. Whether it’s from the shotgun, power-I, or single-back (ace) formation, Lattimore displays the vision, power, and quickness to reach the second levels of defenses in a hurry. His receiving skills out of the backfield may be a bit underrated at this point in his career. In last week’s contest against Missouri, Lattimore caught seven passes, including a few that converted into first downs. I think we can all agree that durability is no longer a concern, as he’s carried the ball over 20 times when facing two separate SEC opponents this season. Despite not showcasing as much explosion as he did in his first two seasons, Lattimore is still one of the most complete running backs in the country.
Bell hit a bump in the road during week three when he faced LB Manti Te'o and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. However, Bell has been a true workhorse this season with 463 yards on 80 carries in two out of four games. Aside from his signature hurdle action over defenders, Bell has done a better job of running behind his pads and being creative in the open field. This has allowed him to pick up extra yardage, as well as decrease some of the hits he receives throughout the course of a game. The 244-pound RB currently ranks second in the nation with 610 rushing yards and ranks first this in every major rushing category in the Big Ten.
Taylor has finally gotten his shot to be the featured back at Stanford and he certainly has not disappointed. In Stanford’s big win over the Southern Cal, Taylor had 213 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. The 5’11 senior is not a guy that jumps out to you at first glance, but he is a consistent runner in-between the tackles and wears on a defense as the game goes on. I also love the fact he’s reliable in all phases of the game.
With only 33 carries this season, Florida State RB Chris Thompson has given some excitement to a backfield that Seminoles' fans have not seen since the combination of Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington. After enduring career-threatening back injury last season, his career on the gridiron was uncertain. However, the speedy Floridian bounced back and has looked like the RB that led the Seminoles in rushing just two seasons ago. His top-end speed has captured multiple highlight reels, while his sudden quickness allows him to make cuts without slowing down his progress. Thompson is second in the nation behind Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas in yards per carry (10.8) and he has 25 runs of ten or more yards this season. If Thompson can keep it up, he could find himself creeping up draft boards next spring.
Has Florida found a true running back? This appears to be the case as Mike Gillislee has answered the call with his productive and consistent running in 2012. Prior to this season, Gillislee served primarily in a backup role, as he scrambled for carries between two speedsters in Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Through four games, the Gator tailback has rushed for 402 yards on 69 carries and 5 touchdowns. Where he’s been most impressive has been his determination to play through a nagging groin injury. He displays natural body lean and possesses an extra gear when bouncing to the outside to pick up extra yards. Gillislee’s health down the stretch could be the key for the Gators to represent the SEC East in the conference championship game in December.
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