2021 Rookie Running Back College Highlights
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Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard
Sophomore 6’1 207 lbs
Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard led the nation in rushing with 2,094 yards. 3 other players rushed for over 2,000 yards: Malcolm Perry, JK Dobbins & Jonathan Taylor. Hubbard is the only one returning to school while the other 3 are off to the NFL. As of right now, Hubbard & Clemson’s Travis Etienne are viewed as the top running backs for the 2021 NFL Draft class.
North Carolina RB Javonte Williams
Junior 5’10 220 lbs
North Carolina RB Javonte Williams had a record-breaking 2020 season despite splitting carries with another NFL prospect in Michael Carter. Williams rushed for 1,140 yards & 19 total TDs. Williams is built like a tank. He’s a strong back who is still shifty and quick, which he showed many times like his “beast mode” run against Miami.
Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell
Sophomore 5’11 191 lbs
From Alabama RB Najee Harris to Clemson’s Travis Etienne and UNC’s JaVonte Williams, the 2021 NFL Draft has some really good running backs. A player people have forgotten about is Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell, who opted out of the 2020 season. As a redshirt Freshman in 2019, Gainwell had one of the best seasons all-purpose wise. He rushed for 1,459 yards & had 610 yards receiving with 16 TDs. He had over 2,000 yards total.
Gainwell is a dual-threat playmaker who is nasty with the ball in his hands. He makes people miss with ease. He is the perfect back for today’s NFL.
Virginia Tech RB Khalil Herbert
Senior 5’9 212 lbs
Khalil Herbert had a flashy run at Kansas before bursting onto the scene in a breakout campaign at Virginia Tech in 2020. In 11 games in 2020, Herbert logged 165 touches from scrimmage, tallying 1,362 yards with nine touchdowns. Herbert is a disciplined runner that plays within himself, has good vision, takes excellent angles, has good contact balance, and is a smooth operator.
North Carolina RB Michael Carter
Senior 5’8 199 lbs
North Carolina had one of the coldest RB duos in the country with Javonte Williams & Michael Carter. Both are expected to be drafted within the first couple rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. Carter is the smaller back, but very quick & shifty. That doesn’t mean he’s not strong. He runs much bigger than he is. He’s a dual-threat playmaker from the backfield.
Alabama RB Najee Harris
Senior 6’2 230 lbs
During his recruitment, Alabama RB Najee Harris was viewed as the LeBron James of high school football. He was already built like a grown man at a young age. He was clearly too good for his competition.
It took some time, but it’s clear that Najee Harris is ready for the NFL. He dominated college defenses all season & could be the only RB drafted in the 1st round. While his teammate DeVonta Smith was deserving of the Heisman, Harris deserved to at least be named a finalist.
Harris is a strong tough runner who has proven that he can be effective in the pass game, which is valuable in today’s football.
Clemson RB Travis Etienne
Senior 5’10 205 lbs
Clemson RB Travis Etienne is a true home run hitter. He’s the type of player who will take one cut & then take it to the house. Trevor Lawrence gets most of the attention on offense, but Etienne was just as valuable, if not more. Last season was viewed as a “down” year even though he had an above average year, but just didn’t match how well he did in previous years. He finished his career as the ACC’s all-time leader in rushing yards.
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