Day 2 of Inside the Big East begins with a look at the conference's running backs. We've already looked at the QBs and the OLs in previous versions, so might as well lick the rest of the backfield. Last season, the Big East boasted some very good running backs. Jordan Todman, Bilal Powell, Delone Carter, and Dion Lewis were all drafted by the NFL. Noel Devine also left West Virginia. In their absence, we have a lot of new comers looking to make waves, and become the man.
- Ray Graham - Pittsburgh. Career stats: 209-1,271-12 TDs, 32 receptions, 259 yard, 2 TDs
- Antwon Bailey - Syracuse. Career stats: 214-1,087, 5 TDs, 63 receptions, 507 yards, 3 TDs
- Victor Anderson - Louisville. Career stats: 336-1,806, 13 TDs, 41 receptions, 251 yards, 1 TD
- Andrew Buie - West Virginia. Career stats: 0-0
- DJ Shoemate - Connecticut. Career stats: 30-117-1 TD, 4 receptions, 35 yards, 1 TD
- Darrell Scott - USF Career stats: 110-438-1 TD, 13 receptions, 140 yards
- Savon Huggins - Rutgers Career stats: 0-0
- Demetirus Murray - USF Career stats: 135-610-4 TDs, 11 receptions, 153 yards, 2 TDs
- Jeremy Wright - Louisville Career stats: 59-327-4 TDs, 3 receptions, 12 yards
- Vernard Roberts - West Virginia Career stats: 0-0
- Lyle McCombs - Connecticut Career stats: 0-0
- De'Antwan Williams - Rutgers Career stats: 0-0
- Ryan Clarke - West Virginia Career stats: 140-541-16 TDs, 4 receptions, 31 yards
- Joe Martinek - Rutgers Career stats: 367-1,647, 17 TDs, 19 receptions, 186 yards
- Zach Brown - Pittsburgh Career stats: 240-1,152-11 TDs, 20 receptions, 105 yards.
- Prince-Tyson Gulley - Syracuse Career stats: 13-74-1 TD, 2 receptions, 8 yards
Ray Graham came out of nowhere for a 922 yard season in 2010, and thanks to Dion Lewis leaving, he should get to that total and then some. Graham appears to be the next best proven back in the league, after Isaiah Pead. Graham had a few games where he had no impact, and if that happens this season, those could be losses for the Panthers. He's backed up by Zach Brown, a senior who didn't play at all last season. Brown has been productive when he's seen the field, but not seeing it in 2 years forced me to rank him so low. Yes, forced.
Antwon Bailey showed a lot of flashes of brilliance the past few seasons, but was stuck behind Delone Carter. Bailey had his breakout against West Virginia, racking up 94 yards in the upset. He can be a weapon out the backfield, and was as the third down back. I expect Bailey to have a nice senior season. His backup is listed as Prince-Tyson Gulley, who I ranked last because of his name. Sounds a bit pretentious. And PT is not very experienced. He worked as a returner, and should be featured as a 3rd down back.
Victor Anderson is a hard man to get a read on. He was the talk of the Big East after an explosive 1,000 yard freshman campaign. Since then, he's been beset by injuries, and bad luck. He backed up Bilal Powell, and had his lowest yards per carry of his career. I'm not saying the two were related. Last year was the first one where he didn't get in the end zone. Now as a senior, he's got a lot to prove. He's a local Louisville guy, and like Powell last season, has been named the face of the program. He's backed up by Jeremy Wright. Wright had some big moments as a kick returner, but in his start against Syracuse, he ran for 98 yards and 2 TDs. He had a 64 yard run against Rutgers, showing off his speed. Wright looks to be the best change of pace back in the league.
West Virginia has not announced a starter at running back, and is going with a running back by committee. Ryan Clarke has the most experience, mainly as the goal line rusher the past few seasons. You can see that by his TD total. The two most promising backs appear to be Vernard Roberts and Andrew Buie. Both were Scout 3 star recruits. Even though they are listed as 1, 2 on the depth chart, they will see a lot of competition from Trey Johnson and Dustin Garrison. Your guess is as good as mine in which back will step up. None are proven, and all should have room to run behind the offensive line.
Savon Huggins is the only 5 star running back to join the Big East this season. I ranked him 7th because I'm not very sure that the Knights offensive line is going to be very kind to him. He's got a ton of talent. You don't get to be ranked the 4th best RB by Scout if you don't. There are concerns about what his workload will be. Joe Martinek started at running back last season, but had a ton of injuries. He's now playing fullback. De'Antwan Williams is a junior and only 5-8. He's listed first on the depth chart, which may mean he will get the first cracks. Huggins is the local guy with the jets, the only thing stopping him will be the opportunities he doesn't get.
South Florida is looking for a starter to step into the spotlight. Last season saw only a 50 carry difference between the leading and second leading rushers. Demetris Murray was the second leading rusher. Neither he, or Mo Plancher separated themselves from the pack. The same looks to be happening with Colorado transfer Darrell Scott. Scott was highly hyped out of high school, but flopped at CU before transferring. I think that the Bulls have a good shot at winning the league. One of these backs emerging as the star would go a long way to making that happen.
Connecticut ran the ball down everyone's throat last season, just like they have been doing for years. Up next in the running back factory is DJ Shoemate. He's being pushed for the job by redshirt freshman Lyle McCombs, but as the senior, I'm giving Shoemate the benefit of the doubt. Shoemate didn't play at all after the first 4 games of last season, and only had 2 carries as a sophomore. The job could be open to either player. McCombs had a rough offseason. In January, he was caught with pot. After being suspended at a time when nothing was happening, he's getting a shot to win the job. Either back should have a good chance to put up numbers in the Connecticut running back factory.