College Football News Preview 2022 preseason unit rankings, looking at the top ten running back situations and rankings by conference.
The quarterbacks have turned into the stars of college football, but there are a whole slew of great backs and teams with terrific rotations of runners returning for 2022.
Who has the No. 2 and 3 backs to keep the main man fresh? Who has the guys to take the pressure off the quarterback so he doesn’t have to take a slew of big hits?
This isn’t a list of the top players – it’s about that depth chart along with the key starters in the unit rankings.
And remember, it’s not necessarily about the running games the crank up huge yards. How effective are these groups in the respective systems?
Sometimes, averaging over five yards per carry and being able to move the chains are more important than amassing big yard totals. So with all of that in mind …
Here are the 2022 running back unit rankings.
CFN Preview 2022 Preseason College Football Unit Rankings: Running Backs
As long as Bijan Robinson is rolling, everything else about the Texas offense should work. He was banged up last year, but he still ran for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns. Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson are great reserves who can more than carry the load.
Leave it to Wisconsin to find a superstar from out of nowhere. Braelon Allen was a load as a true freshman – running for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns – and the offense gets back Chez Mellusi, the main man early on before getting hurt. Isaac Guerendo can pound away, too.
Mohamed Ibrahim was cranking it up against Ohio State in the opener last year with 163 yards and two touchdowns, and then he tore his Achilles tendon and was out for the year. He’s back, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams are proven veterans, and it should all work behind another pounding offensive front.
Yeah, Bijan Robinson might be the best running back in college football, and Minnesota and Wisconsin have the Big Ten’s killer ground games, and CJ Stroud and the passing attack own the Ohio State offense … Buckeye RB TreVeyon Henderson takes a back seat to no one. He averaged close to seven yards per carry with 15 scores, and backup Miyan Williams averaged over seven yards per pop with 507 yards and three scores.
Get ready for Jahmyr Gibbs. Alabama has had some fantastic running backs over the years, but the Georgia Tech transfer is the best home run hitter the program has had in a while. He’s about to explode, and Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, and Trey Sanders can rotate in and produce, too.
The Mountaineers are insane-deep in talent and experience. 2021 leading rusher Nate Noel is back after running for over 1,600 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons. Cameron Peoples led the team in rushing in 2020 – he averaged over six yards per carry with over 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in the last two years. Anderson Castle averaged over five yards per carry as the third leading rusher, and Daetrich Harrington is a 1,425-yard career rusher with 12 scores – averaging over five yards per pop.
Sean Tucker is as good as any back in college football. He might not have the hype of some of the other starts, but the guy who ran for almost 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns might just be the ACC Player of the Year if he can do that again. QB Garrett Shrader is the team’s second best runner, but New Mexico State transfer Juwaun Price is a terrific all-around back who adds more flash to the mix.
It worked last year with Kenneth Walker. Get a solid transfer, turn him loose, get massive production. Jalen Berger was a huge recruit for Wisconsin, but it didn’t quite work out. He might not be Walker, but the talent is there to explode. Colorado transfer Jarek Broussard was terrific in his two years in Boulder – he could be the one who takes over right away.
USC might have lost Keontay Ingram and Vavae Malepeai, but Darwin Barlow is a nice back with upside. He’ll be a part of the mix, but Oregon transfer Travis Dye is the star. The tough back can do it all – he scored 18 times last year and has over 3,000 career rushing yards and 83 catches. Peeling away Austin Jones from Stanford was terrific for the depth.
The backs under Billy Napier in the Louisiana offense ripped off yards and big plays in chunks. The attack is great at putting the runners in a position to do big things, and that’s about to be what Montrell Johnson – 838 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns last year for the Ragin’ Cajuns – does for the Gators. Nay’Quan Wright and Lorenzo Lingard should roll in the new attack, too.