|Paul Connors / Associated Press|
|Running back Marion Grice led the Sun Devils with 679 yards rushing last season.|
This is the first in a series looking at the best position tandems in the Pac-12, taking into account both college production and pro potential. Today it is the best pair of running backs in the Pac-12.
The best: Arizona State
The duo: Marion Grice and D.J. Foster
The reasoning: Grice, a transfer from Blinn College, and Foster, the four-star centerpiece of new head coach Todd Graham's first recruiting class, had never played a snap of major college football before combining for 213 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in the Sun Devils' 2012 season opener. They would end the season as the engines of a balanced attack, with 1,172 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground and 79 receptions for 958 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns through the air.
Grice and Foster are almost interchangeable in Graham's balanced spread offense. Foster is a little bit quicker and a natural receiver who can line up in the slot, while Grice has an inch and five pounds on the sophomore. Together, however, they represent the new breed of running back increasingly valued at the next level, a satellite specialist who can run, catch and block in the mold of Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush or Danny Woodhead. Grice and Foster are in the right system at Arizona State, and will be entering the NFL at the perfect time to showcase their skills.
Grice and Foster are unlikely to hold this title by season's end -- the favorites would be Oregon's versatile junior De'Anthony Thomas and whoever emerges between sophomore Byron Marshall and freshman Thomas Tyner -- but going into the 2013 campaign, there is no better tandem in the conference.
Next up in this series: Wide receivers on Thursday.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.