Running backs still matter a great deal in college football. The most well-stocked backfields have more than one ball carrier who can put pressure on the defense.
If you’re ranking the top collegiate backfields, there are a couple of schools that have a case for the top spot heading into the 2020 season. Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller recently revealed his list of the top 10 backfields in the country.
At the top was Clemson, led by Travis Etienne. Many thought Etienne would declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he elected to give it another go with the Tigers and is a major reason why Clemson will likely be the preseason No. 1 team in both major polls.
“Factor in the 37 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns and Clemson’s backfield boasts the most potent all-around difference-maker,” Miller wrote. “Etienne is well on his way toward finishing top 10 in FBS career rushing yards and touchdowns.”
Did you know Travis Etienne is the ACC's All Time leader in rushing yards per attempt?
#1 Travis Etienne 7.8 ypc
#2 Warrick Dunn 6.9 ypc
Can he keep this record after 2020? pic.twitter.com/hi4UWNpWjd
— CFB Home (@CFBHome) June 24, 2020
Runs of 20+ yards the past two season:
1. Travis Etienne (43)
2. Jonathan Taylor (30)
3(t). Chuba Hubbard (28)
3(t). Darrynton Evans (28)
Still can't believe RB1 came back to school pic.twitter.com/75Ujyr17TD
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) May 6, 2020
Like we said though, one man does not make a backfield. While Etienne (207 carries, 1,614 yards, 19 touchdowns in 2019) is clearly Clemson’s main weapon, the Tigers also have Lyn-J Dixon as his primary backup.
Last year, Dixon rushed for 635 yards and six touchdowns on only 104 carries. Also, Miller factored dual-threat quarterbacks into his backfield rankings, so Trevor Lawrence also helped Clemson lock down the No. 1 spot.
Lawrence is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft because of his right arm. However, he’s also dangerous with his legs, as evidenced by his 107-yard output against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff last year.
For the season, Lawrence rushed for 563 yards and nine touchdowns on 103 carries.