Over next two weeks I’ll take a look at the top five players at each position Auburn will face this fall.
The SEC is always loaded with big time running backs and this year is no different. The best back in the SEC resides in Auburn, AL and the 2nd best back (Chris Rodriguez Jr of Kentucky) isn’t on Auburn’s schedule. But this is still a pretty loaded list.
5.) Brian Robinson Jr. (Alabama)
2020 Stats: 91 carries 483 yds (5.3 avg) 6 TD 6 rec 26 yds (4.3) avg
Career Stats: 274 carries 1,361 yds (5.0 avg) 15 TD 17 rec 150 yds (8.8) avg
It’s finally Robinson’s turn to lead the Tide backfield. Former 5-star Najee Harris was the bell-cow of this group for the past two seasons but now he’s off to jump over people in the NFL. Robinson was a solid #2 punch and is now set to take the lead role.
However, I doubt he sees the same number of touches this fall as Harris. That Tide backfield is loaded with former 5-stars in the likes of Trey Sanders and Jase McClellan. Former Auburn target Roydell Williams is still hanging around too. I expect to see more of a committee backfield for the Tide in 2021 but Robinson is likely to be the first one on the field each week.
4.) Zamir White (Georgia)
2020 Stats: 144 carries 779 yds (5.4 avg) 6 rec 37 yds (6.2 avg)
Career Stats: 222 carries 1,187 yds (5.3 avg) 14 TD 8 rec 57 yds (7.1 avg)
I was very high on White coming out of high school and was terrified that he would team up with Justin Fields to form the most deadly backfield in America resulting in the end of 1980 jokes.
Thankfully that didn’t occur thanks to Kirby Smart’s expert QB decisions.
Even if Fields had stayed that scenario became unlikely after White went down with an ACL injury as a true freshman. That knee injury seems to have stolen some of his explosiveness away though he’s still an extremely physical runner who is very effective between the tackles.
UGA fans are hoping that the ground game isn’t what carries this team anyway in 2021. But they have some horses in the backfield if they need to fall back on old habits again this season.
3.) Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss)
2020 Stats: 147 carries 745 yds (5.1 avg) 9 TD 15 rec 155 yds (10.3 avg) TD 10 KR 289 yds (28.9 avg) TD
Career Stats: 251 carries 1,467 yds (5.8 avg) 35 rec 327 yds (9.3 avg) 2 TD 23 KR 606 yds (26.3 avg) 2 TD
Ealy has been one of the most explosive players in the SEC ever since landing in Oxford in 2019. His yards per carry dropped last fall though that had more to do with an SEC only schedule than his talent. He’s an effective weapon in the passing and return game on top of what he does as a tailback. With another season to work under Kiffin, a playcaller with a history of pounding the rock when he’s got a special talent at running back, don’t be surprised if Ealy puts up some monster numbers this fall.
2.) Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M)
2020 Stats: 188 carries 1,036 yds (5.5 avg) 9 TD 20 rec 193 yds (9.7 avg)
Career Stats: 362 carries 1,982 yds (5.5 avg) 19 TD 49 rec 396 yds (8.1 avg)
Spiller doesn’t wow you with incredible feats of athleticism or break away TD runs. He’s just an absolute pain in the butt to get to the ground. The 6’1” 225 lb bruiser has been the battering ram for this Aggie offense the last 2 seasons and with a new offensive line in 2021, he’ll likely need to rely on those breaking tackle skills to help the A&M offense get rolling. He’s been getting some NFL buzz in recent months as scouts have started to focus on next year’s class. Kid can move well for his size and will likely be the focal point of this A&M offense this season.
1.) Kevin Harris (South Carolina)
2020 Stats: 185 carries 1,138 yds (6.2 avg) 15 TD 21 rec 159 yds (7.6 avg) TD
Career Stats: 206 carries 1,317 yds (6.4 avg) 19 TD 24 rec 185 yds (7.7 avg) TD
The Gamecocks suffered one of the biggest off-season blows last fall when former 5-star RB MarShawn Lloyd went down with an ACL injury. Many thought he’d be South Carolina’s top back in 2020.
Turns out they already had a stud on roster.
Harris was quietly one of the biggest breakout stars last season. Despite playing on a terrible team, Harris somehow managed to average over 6 yards a carry against an all SEC schedule. A stout back with surprising speed, Harris just strikes me as one of those backs you will see still suiting up in the NFL 10 years from now. He scored 2 touchdowns against the Tigers last fall and is poised to be central piece of South Carolina’s offense again in 2021. This time though he’ll have some 5-star help to give him a breather.
Beware this Gamecock rushing attack.