Clemson's Spiller, LSU's Scott tops among college senior RB prospects

Phil Coale / Associated Press
Clemson's C.J. Spiller is small in size but big in playmaking ability. A big senior season could move him up in the first round.

Top college senior rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | G/C | OT | DE | DT | MLB | OLB | S | CB

Editor's note: This is the second in a weekly series detailing the top senior prospects, by position, for the 2010 NFL Draft.

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The running back position has changed a great deal over the last 10 years. Florida State's William Floyd was the last fullback drafted in the first round when he was chosen by San Francisco with the 28th pick in 1994.

Because of the proliferation of multiple receiver sets, many teams carry only three running backs -- two tailbacks and a fullback. Others employ an H-back instead of a fullback. The H-back many times will be a tight end who shifts into the backfield.

Since 1998, 38 running backs have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Running back may be the easiest position for a rookie to come in and start quickly. Speed is important, but outstanding quickness is the most important trait for the position. It is also important to be a good receiver.

This list only includes players who will have exhausted their eligibility after the 2009 season. Florida running back Emmanuel Moody, a transfer from USC, has an extra year of eligibility. For that reason he was not included on this list, even though he would likely be a top prospect if he chose to enter the 2010 draft.

Here are the top 14 senior running backs, plus two fullbacks, scouts will be keeping a close eye on this fall.

1. C.J. Spiller

College: Clemson
Height/Weight: 5-10½, 195

Spiller is a small back with ability to run, catch passes and return kicks. He has outstanding speed and won the Golden West 100 meters in high school (2006). He averaged 10.2 yards per carry on 541 carries in high school. He had the longest run in Clemson bowl history, taking a handoff 83 yards in the 2007 Chick-Fil-A Bowl. He has 87 catches in three years. He is projected to be a late first-round pick but could improve his stock with a big season.
2. Charles Scott

College: LSU
Height/Weight: 5-11¼, 230

Scott is a four-year player at LSU. He started for the first time in 2008 and averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns. He has good instincts as a runner and had seven games last year in which he scored at least two touchdowns. He can catch the ball coming out of the backfield and ran for 3,711 yards and scored 46 touchdowns in his final two years of high school. He is projected to go late in the first round.

3. LeGarrette Blount

College: Oregon
Height/Weight: 6-4¾, 250

Outstanding high school player from Florida, who spent two years in junior college before coming to Oregon in 2008. He backed up Jeremiah Johnson, who rushed for 1,201 yards, last year with the Ducks. Blount ran for 1,002 yards and 12 touchdowns as a reserve. He has big-time talent, but lacks a good offensive line.
4. Toby Gerhart

College: Stanford
Height/Weight: 6-0½, 237

Gerhart is the all-time leading rusher in California high school football history (9,622 yards). He reminds me of Tommy Vardell, the ninth overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Cleveland Browns. He is a strong inside runner and was the leading rusher for Stanford in 2008. He is also an outstanding baseball player.

5. Keiland Williams

College: LSU
Height/Weight: 5-11, 227

He was the backup to Charles Scott. He has started just one game in his career and ran for 107 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdowns in that game against Notre Dame in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. He is a very explosive runner with quickness and a good change of direction. He is also a good receiver.
6. Anthony Dixon

College: Mississippi State
Height/Weight: 6-0½, 238

Dixon started five games as a true freshman. He has run for 2,727 yards and 30 touchdowns in three years. He is a good player on an overmatched team. He was the first running back in school history to run for over 1,000 as a sophomore.

7. Brandon Minor

College: Michigan
Height/Weight: 6-0, 223

Michigan calls their tailback a "super back." He was an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2008. He is a very strong runner and had 117 yards rushing vs. Penn State -- a very good defensive team.
8. Javarris James

College: Miami (Fla.)
Height/Weight: 5-11, 205

James has started 22 games in 2006 and 2007. He was recruited by top schools like USC, Oklahoma, Florida and Nebraska out of high school. He will be part of the running back rotation in 2009. He is a good receiver out of the backfield.

9. Ben Tate

College: Auburn
Height/Weight: 5-11, 215

Tate set the Maryland high school record for career rushing yards with 5,920 and the single-season mark with 2,886 rushing yards. Auburn struggled in 2008 and Tate played at a lesser level than he did in 2007. He has good running and receiving ability. He has 4.5 speed with quickness.
10. James Starks

College: Buffalo
Height/Weight: 6-2, 210

He was selected to the All-Mid American conference team the past three years. He was second-team in 2006-07 and first team in 2008. He has run for 3,140 yards and 34 touchdowns in three years. He is a strong runner and good receiver.

11. Lonyae Miller

College: Fresno State
Height/Weight: 5-10, 220

Fresno St. played three running backs last year. Miller had the most touchdowns and best yard per carry average (6.8), while scoring seven touchdowns. He has speed and power for his position and can play every down.
12. Chris Brown

College: Oklahoma
Height/Weight: 5-10, 210

Backup running back to true junior DeMarco Murray, who is outstanding when healthy. Brown ran for 1,220 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008.

13. Stafon Johnson

College: USC
Height/Weight: 5-10¾, 215

Johnson was a part of a tailback rotation at school. He played as a true freshman in 2006. He runs hard with great balance. He started in the Rose Bowl against Penn State and has five career 100-yard rushing games.
14. Andre Dixon

College: Connecticut
Height/Weight: 6-0½, 210

Dixon did not play as well last year as he did in 2007 when he started eight games and made the All-Big East team. He was suspended for two games and missed time with an ankle injury. He ran for 828 yards in 2007 and 42 yards yards in 2008.
1. Rashawn Johnson

College: Virginia
Height/Weight: 6-1, 245

Jackson came to Virginia as a running back, but played some at linebacker. Before becoming a fullback in 2007, Jackson has running and blocking ability for the position. He has good athleticism and is a great special teams player.
2. Jack Corcoran

College: Rutgers
Height/Weight: 6-0¼, 230

He was a high school fullback, who scored 70 touchdowns and was a very good wrestler. He was the New Jersey state champion in the 215-pound weight class. He is a very good blocker in short yardage and goal-line situations. He is a very good athlete.



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