The 2020 college football season featured plenty of talented running backs, including Najee Harris and Travis Etienne, who were both drafted in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.
Although some of the game’s best ballcarriers turned pro at the end of the year, a collection of talented players will return to the backfield in 2021. With the season just over three months away, Pro Football Focus’ analyst Anthony Treash released his rankings of the top-10 running backs still left in college.
Claiming the top spot, was rising sophomore Tank Bigsby. During his first-year at Auburn, the former four-star showed flashes of brilliance. He averaged six yards per carry, rushing 138 times for 834 yards and five touchdowns. He also proved to be a major factor in the Tigers’ return game, fielding kickoffs for the SEC program.
Treash pointed specifically to Bigsby’s tough-running nature as the reason for him claiming the top spot.
“The 2020 four-star recruit — who ranked 40th nationally, according to 247Sports — was easily among the most elusive ball carriers in college football last year,” Treash wrote in his recent rankings, according to 247Sports. “His strong contact balance was on full display as he came away with the fifth-most broken tackles per attempt (0.34) in the FBS.”
The top-5 returning RBs in college football 💪 pic.twitter.com/zq1ObaXBAO
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 11, 2021
Bigsby will need to factor more into Auburn’s passing game if he hopes to have a bigger impact in 2021. In his freshman season, he made just 11 catches for 84 yards.
Bigsby was just one of three SEC running backs who cracked the top-5 of Treash’s preseason list. Alabama’s Brian Robinson Jr. and Ole Miss’s Jerrion Ealy ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
Three Big 12 running backs made up the rest of the top-6. Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn slotted in at No. 2 with Oklahoma’s Kennedy Brooks coming just behind him at No. 3. Last year’s breakout Iowa State star Breece Hall was listed at No. 6.