1. LaMichael James So ...Oregon
2. Jacquizz Rodgers Jr...Oregon State
3. Chris Polk So ...Washington
4. Shane Vereen Jr ...California
5. Dillon Baxter Fr ...USC
The Pac 10 always has had great talent at running back and 2010 is no exception. What is the exception is the extraordinary amount of great RB talent coming to the conference in the 2010 recruiting class. The West coast was deep in talented HS running backs last season and most of the schools in the conference loaded up on some top flight talent.
It is easy to pick the top four returnees since all four topped or were very close (Shane Vereen) to topping 1000 yards last season. After that it gets a little cloudy because I expect some very talented freshman to emerge immediately. One of those kids is USC's Dillon Baxter who has been looking like Reggie Bush since spring drills began in LA.
Allen Bradford started the spring as the designated starter in USC platoon but it is going to be very hard to keep Baxter off the field. Up here in Seattle we all know how good Callier and Cooper are...Baxter is better going in and that is pretty scary.
LaMichael James ran for 1,546 yards on 230 carries for a sensational 6.72 average and an even more impressive nearly 119 yards per game. He ran into some off season personal trouble which almost landed him in jail and off the football team. He will be suspended for the opening game but Oregon won't miss him much since they have tremendous depth which is just as talented right behind him.
According to the Oregon Ducks website, "few players have ever made the impact in their initial campaign at Oregon as the Pac-10's Offensive Freshman of the Year" as he has, by becoming the first freshmen ever to earn the team's "Most Outstanding Player" award.
Jacquizz Rodgers. A sophomore in 2009, Rodgers picked up 1,440 yards on 273 carries for a 5.27 average and nearly 111 yards per game. Quizz wasn't 100% last year and he still posted some great numbers.
He will enter his junior season needing 1,169 yards rushing and eight touchdowns to move into second place on the Beavers all-time list, numbers he easily eclipsed his first two seasons, once as the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year -- the first true freshman to win the honor -- and the second as a first-team All-Pac-10 running back. At his present trajectory -- if he opts to play two more seasons -- he'll end up second on the Pac-10's all-time rushing list behind former USC Heisman Trophy winner Charles White.
Chris Polk gained 1,113 yards last season on 226 carries for nearly five yards per carry and almost 93 yards per game. Those are impressive numbers but what is even more impressive is how many yards he picked up after contact.
Polk had surgery shortly after the first of the year, leaving him out of contact work this spring. He puts on full pads for practice and wears a red jersey, going through non-contact drills but sitting non-contact work. "I haven't even lifted this arm yet," he said. But Polk says there's no danger he won't be available for the season, vowing to be fully recovered by July. "I'll be 100 percent ready to go," he said.
Shane Vereen backed up Jahvid Best last season but still ran for 952 yards and a 5.2 average in 2009. In 2010 he will have a full time starting role and that should yield at least a 1000 yard season.
Vereen possesses the rarest of blends for a back, a bona fide homerun hitter with a lunch pail mentality. How exactly does that happen to a budding superstar, especially one raised in the affluence of Valencia, Calif.? Really good parenting. From a very young age, Vereen and brother Brock, who’s headed to Minnesota, knew that athletics were only possible if the schoolwork and the chores were completed. It really paid off. Shane is an outstanding student and can probably still cut your lawn better than some landscapers. In the bigger picture, he’s a complete kid with a great work ethic. If he can’t out run you on a play, he’ll make darn sure he out works you.
College Football News
Dillon Baxter hasn't played a single down of football for USC yet but he may be the most talented Trojan RB to step on to the field since Reggie Bush. The West Coast was rich last season in HS RB talent and Baxter was the most coveted player in the group. USC always has a lot of talent stockpiled at the position so it is safe to say no matter who gets the bulk of the carries this year that one of the Trojan tailbacks will be among the best in the Pac 10.
It's the first scrimmage of spring practice. Dillon Baxter is a freshman who, technically, should still be a senior in high school right now. But after waiting most of the weekend for a clip to show up of the 50-yard touchdown run that had cynical beat writers whistling in praise on Saturday and coach Lane Kiffin openly comparing Baxter to Reggie Bush at the former Heisman winner's best, I'm posting it because it is hee-yah, from two different angles (if the clip doesn't take you directly to it, the play begins around the 0:50 mark, following a nice strip-and-run by defensive tackle DaJohn Harris):