It’s about that time where we start to ask which players will be the best 2022. We’ll start with the running back position.
What went into the decisions around the rankings are based on vision, speed, strength, pass catching, effectiveness, and projected draft round. It can be difficult to predict the draft round for some, but there are little things that stand out that can assist in making a decision of a player’s draft round.
So, let’s get started.
10. Zach Evans (Ole Miss)
The TCU transfer product gets a fresh start in Lane Kiffin’s offense at Ole miss. Ole Miss has done a great job of developing their offensive line over the years, a back like Evans could do untold levels of damage to defenses. Evans averaged 7 yards a carry for TCU in 2021.
Ole Miss lost a lot of talent from last years team, but with Evans coming in the transition should be easier. Unlike the Big 12, the SEC is field with a lot of strong front sevens. If anything, Evans going to the SEC and playing against teams like LSU, Alabama, and Texas A&M will only propel him up this list if he does well.
9. Will Shipley (Clemson)
The former #1 running back in the 2021 recruiting class, Will Shipley showed us enough in in his first year to know he is one of the best backs in the country. His size and deceptive speed makes him very difficult to take down. The guy just runs really hard. in 21′, Shipley was hindered by injuries mid way through he season, but once he got rolling he was hard to stop. Rushing for 739 yards and 11 touchdowns during a down year for Clemson was impressive.
In 22′, depending on who is the quarterback, Shipley will be leaned on heavily to take the pressure off his quarterbacks. During Clemson’s 5-game win streak to end the season, Shipley rushed for over 100 yards in 3 of the 5 games. I expect for Shipley to be a household name by the end of the season as Clemson makes another run at the college football playoffs.
8. Deuce Vaughn (Kansas State)
A small but strong shifty back for the Kansas State Wildcats. Like most good backs in college, Vaughn is a great pass catching back. Vaughn had 49 receptions for 468 yards and 4 touchdowns. In total yards he accounted for 1,872 and 22 touchdowns. At only 5’6, Vaughn amassed over 100 yards in 9 games last season. While Vaughn may not be the biggest or even the fastest, he finds a way to get in the end zone and make defenses play for taking him lightly.
7. Devon Achane (Texas A&M)
The Texas A&M Aggies have one of the fastest returning running backs in the country. Achane wasn’t the lead back in 2021, but that didn’t stop him from rushing for 910 yards and 9 touchdowns.
His quick one cut burst is difficult to stop, while his open field speed distances him from the competition. Achane will be relied on heavily in 22′ as the Aggies break in a new quarterback.
6. Tank Bigsby (Auburn)
The 6’0 213 lbs. running back comes in at #10 overall in our preseason rankings. The reason for this is that Bigsby runs violently which is good for a running back. He has a good burst that allows him to get to the next level of the defense quickly, almost surprising the linebackers and safeties. In 2021, Bigsby ran for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in a touch division. He was certainly the bright spot for the Auburn offense. For his size, Bigsby uses his vision really well in open field to make defenders miss. Unfortunately, that hard plant on his knees can be detrimental in the long run if he’s not careful. Also, because he runs so violently, sometimes it looks like the ball is in danger of falling out of his grasp. With that being said, Bigsby has not fumbled in his two seasons at Auburn, so I might be a little over concerned.
5. Blake Corum (Michigan)
The Michigan stud at running back is fast with great power. Although the offense will have a new play caller, he still should be able to make a lot of plays all season long. Corum is strong with great leverage and low center of gravity. He is difficult to hit straight on and reminds me a lot of former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. His style of running is very compact and controlled all the way through the moment of receiving the ball to the point where he is tackled.
In 2021, Corum rushed for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was one of the few backs to have over 100 carries and average 6.5 yards a carry of more. As the relief back, he showed great promise, in 22′ he’ll be the feature back for Michigan. The Wolverines lost a lot to the NFL, but with Corum returning the Wolverines will be just as formidable on the ground as they were in 2021.
4. Braelon Allen (Wisconsin)
The 6’0 running back who was expected to play defense has turned into one of the best backs in college football. His size matched with his speed makes for a very difficult running back to bring down. He is calling in line with the Wisconsin tradition of great college backs. Due to many injuries and transfers last season, Braelon became Wisconsin’s featured back at just 17 years old. He broke a Wisconsin record with 7 straight 100-yard games lead the Big Ten with 6.8 yards a carry. Braelon has a bright future at Running back U.
3.Treveyon Henderson (Ohio State)
Some might say this is too low but based off the film he’s right where he should be. The leading rusher for the Buckeyes in 2021 returns to dominate the Big Ten once again. Henderson has solid vision and runs hard. He’s not the fastest back Ohio State has had but he gets great production. At 5’10 215, Henderson does a great job of keeping his pad level low. In 21′ he rushed for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns. Henderson will be a big part of why Ohio State makes a run in 2022.
2. Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama)
For most around the country Gibbs is an unknown running back, but to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, Gibbs is the steal of the transfer portal. The Georgia Tech transfer spent most of his college years making defenses in the ACC look like fools. One of the top backs coming out of Georgia when he was in high school, Gibbs has lived up to the billing. There were rumors that during Alabama’s college football playoff preparation, Gibbs was able to practice with them because he had already transferred. The onlookers said he was cooking the dominating defense of the Tide.
Behind a bad offense of line at Georgia Tech, Gibbs was able to rush for just 746 tough yards and 6 touchdowns. Some might see that number and laugh compared to the other backs on this list, but if some of these dudes were behind that O-Line they wouldn’t be on here. As for catching passes out of the backfield, Gibbs caught 36 passes for 470 yards and 2 touchdowns. By seasons end, Gibbs will finish as the best running back in the country and a big reason why the Tide will be in the college football playoffs.
1. Bijan Robinson (Texas)
The number 1 running back going into 2022 is Texas rising junior Bijan Robinson. Baring any injuries, Robinson will be the top back taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Arizona native is a strong, fast, quick, back that can do it in the passing game as well. Robinson shows the ability to hit the hole fast and the vision to seek other alleyways to gain yards. He averaged 5.8 yards a carry.
At 6’0 220 lbs, Robinson rushed for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 10 games. Robinson will be essential to the success of the Texas Longhorns in 2022.