With the list of quarterbacks to watch for this upcoming college football season already done, now it’s time to check out the top five running backs to watch in this 2020 season. All of these guys mentioned below will be draft eligible after this season and should have your attention. Check it out.
1. Travis Etienne, Clemson, Senior
Travis Etienne was going to be one of the top running backs for the 2020 Draft had he not said that he was going to stay for his final season at Clemson. Last season, Etienne had over 1,500 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns, and an average of 7.9 yards per carry. He is a phenomenal running back who is arguably the best ball carrier that will be going into next year’s draft. Etienne is strong, explosive, has crazy balance, and has a fifth gear. Ball carrying issues are a problem that he needs to work on, but he is overall a great, all around running back. He can be used on all downs. First round running backs have been a rarity in the past few drafts, but Etienne at the moment is one that could be justified.
2. Najee Harris, Alabama, Senior
Najee Harris out of Alabama is going to be getting a lot of looks from NFL teams this college football season. Last season Harris rushed for over 1,200 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, and 5.9 yards per carry. Not to mention he was fairly active in the receiving game with seven receiving touchdowns on 27 catches. Harris is a running back that has a huge upside, and he doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires. He is a powerful, strong, running back who can either go around you or through you. He has a brutal stiff arm and incredible balance to bounce off of weak tackle attempts. In all honesty his biggest weakness that sticks out is his weakness in pass blocking. Often he does not show the best awareness when blocking or he would completely whiff on a block and give up a sack. Harris overall is an absolute beast of a running back, and should be a top three running back and maybe even top two by the end of this season.
3. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State, Junior
Chuba Hubbard out of Oklahoma State, was getting looks from NFL teams at the end of last year. At the end of last season he was only a redshirt sophomore, so he decided to stay with the Cowboys for at least another season. Last season he rushed for over 2,000 yards, 21 touchdowns, and just shy of 7 yards per carry. Hubbard was impressive last season and he should only improve with another season under his belt. He has great vision, great speed through the first two lines of defense, and is incredibly slippery in one on one matchups. One issue that immediately sticks out in his game is his ability to hit the fifth gear to breakaway from defenders. Hubbard definitely is looking like he would be a solid addition to a team on day two of the Draft. Time will only tell if his stock rises or falls.
4. Max Borghi, Washington State, Junior
Out of Washington State University is Max Borghi. Borghi is a name that recently has been popping up on teams’ radars. In 2019 Borghi had over 800 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns and he also had almost 600 yards receiving with 5 receiving touchdowns. He is a lot like a Danny Woodhead or a Christian McCaffrey. He can run in between the tackles but he is also a huge threat in the passing game as well. The stats that he put up were pretty impressive considering that last season he was in a very heavy pass offense. It will be interesting to see how Borghi does this upcoming season with a coaching change to the Cougar offense. Nick Rolovich coached for Hawaii for some time. He is known to be a huge “between the tackles” guy, who rarely throws the ball to guys in the backfield. It will be interesting to see how Borghi will do in a new system in 2020.
5. CJ Verdell, Oregon, Junior
The University of Oregon has a very talented running back named CJ Verdell. Verdell has had two phenomenal seasons so far. He has had back to back 1,000 yard seasons. Last season he had eight touchdowns and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Verdell is a very twitchy running back who has great vision and is the type of running back who can slip through the smallest of cracks to get a decent gain. While his vision is good, he could show more creativity when behind the line of scrimmage to make things happen. He at times is impatient on waiting for his linemen. Developing these traits would do him some good for the upcoming season.
The running back class is really strong with the main three guys being: Etienne, Harris, and Hubbard. After those three guys the talent does start to see a gap. However, the talent is still there. There are plenty of running backs that will be in the 2021 Draft who will be valuable contributors to NFL teams. Here are a list of backs who did not make the list but still should be interesting to watch this coming season:
Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis, Redshirt Sophomore
Kylin Hill, Mississippi State, Senior
Journey Brown, Penn State, Junior
Keontay Graham, UTSA, Junior
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