The 2015 Running Back Recruits

Bruce Matson

Since the NFL just purged some of the top running backs from the college ranks, it’s time to take a look at what college football has left to offer. There are still a lot of backs at the college level who could eventually develop into usable fantasy options in the near future. Just because the NFL took a large chunk of running backs in this year’s draft, doesn’t mean we are going to be lacking running back talent in the upcoming years.

The 2015 recruiting class was loaded with gifted running backs. Some will be entering the NFL after this year’s draft and others are still finalizing their collegiate careers. I took the recruiting ranks from 247sports and did a quick analysis of each player that received a five or four-star rating. This will provide insight on how some of these prospects are doing and also give you the perspective of how the talent-pool may look like in a few years.

247sports separates their running back ranks into two different categories, one being running backs and the other being all-purpose backs. In order to obtain a true evaluation of the running back landscape, I featured both categories in the article.

Here’s a look at some of the running backs who are getting ready to hit the NFL stage. Listed with the player’s name is their recruiting rank and rating.

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4. Ronald Jones, RB USC – Four Star

5. Derrius Guice, RB LSU – Four Star

9. Chris Warren, RB Texas – Four Star

10. Mark Walton, RB Miami – Four Star

13. Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State – Four Star

26. Josh Adams, RB Notre Dame – Four Star

2. Nyheim Hines, RB North Carolina State – Four Star (All-Purpose Back)

While assessing the 2015 running back recruits, you will notice there are a lot of players who are barely contributing to their current teams or they’re not on a team at all. Like anything else, there will always be players who quickly acclimate to their new roles and other players who fall to the wayside. Still, it’s a very interesting list of running backs and there’s a chance that some of them could make an impact at the NFL level in a few years.

2015 Running Backs

1. Damien Harris, RB Alabama – Five Star

With two very quiet 1,000-yard seasons, Harris is approaching his final year in college as one of the top backs in the nation. He would’ve been a heavy hitter in this year’s draft, but unfortunately, he opted to return to Alabama for his senior season. Barring injury or poor performance, Harris should be one of the top running backs in next year’s draft.

2. Soso Jamabo, RB UCLA – Five Star

With just one 100-yard game to his career, devy owners are left wondering when they will receive a return on their investment. As once billed as one of the top young prospects in the game, Jamabo was a hot commodity in the devy community. He has flashed on tape but hasn’t been productive enough to warrant a massive hype train.

3. Jacques Patrick, RB Florida State – Four Star

Everyone remembers the Million Dollar Man, but only the hardcore wrestling fans remember Virgil. Like Virgil, Patrick played second fiddle to Dalvin Cook and Cam Akers during his entire career. although he’s not the sultan of flash, Patrick does run with enough power to get an NFL team to appreciate his skill-sets. He’s not a high-end devy prospect, but a player to monitor during next draft season.

6. LJ Scott, RB Michigan State – Four Star

As a devy prospect, Scott’s value has been on a roller coaster. His career started off slow, then it gained some steam after his sophomore season. The roar of the crowd slowly faded away after a lackluster junior year. Injuries and playing behind a poor offensive line has plagued his career. Not all is lost, Scott has flirted with a 1,000-yards rushing in each of the last two seasons. He has looked good in spots, but he also had some poor performances. His future depends on how he plays during his senior season.

7. Mike Weber, RB Ohio State – Four Star

Weber is a bigger back who excels at running between the tackles. Due to his limited involvement in the passing game, he doesn’t profile as a high-end fantasy asset. After surpassing the 1,000-yard mark during his redshirt freshman season, Weber had to play behind the talented freshman, J.K. Dobbins the following year. Weber is not going to be Ohio State’s lead back. In order for him to prove that he is a three-down back, he will need to receive a much larger workload next year. However, with Dobbins on the field, I don’t see that happening.

8. Johnny Fraiser, RB North Carolina State – Four Star

Fraiser is no longer with North Carolina State. He suffered a bad shoulder injury during his redshirt freshman season. The injury was one of the main reasons why he decided to step away from the team.

11. Dexter Williams, RB Notre Dame – Four Star

Williams could get the opportunity to prove his worth this season. Josh Adams owned a 37.45 percent market share of the team’s carries last year. Adams left the team to enter the NFL Draft, leaving a large number of touches to be distributed to the remaining running backs. This is a major opportunity for Williams to display his talents.

12. Jordan Scarlett, RB Florida – Four Star

Scarlett notched a goose egg in the stat column last year after being suspended for the entire season for taking place in a credit card scandal. He now has unfinished business and looks to show off his skills-sets next season.

14. Eric Swinney, RB Ole Miss – Four Star

After two major knee injuries, Swinney is aiming to compete for the starting job this season. Right now, he’s considered the team’s lead back, but it’s going to be interesting to see how the distribution of touches is going to be handled.

15. Desherrius Flowers, RB Grambling – Four Star

After transferring out of Alabama’s program, Flowers now looks to compete for starting running back duties at Grambling. His stock is currently at rock bottom. It’s going to be interesting to see if he pops up as an under the radar player next year during draft season.

16. Nick Brossette, RB LSU – Four Star

LSU is courting a position battle at running back and Brossette is in the thick of things. There’s a good chance he could enter the season as the team’s starting running back. If he performs well this year, he could be one of the top running back prospects in next year’s draft.

17. Corey Dauphine, RB Tulane – Four Star

After just two carries for 25 yards at Texas Tech during his sophomore season, Dauphine decided to transfer to Tulane. Due to transferring, he couldn’t play in 2017. He’s looking to contribute to the team right way this year and could be a solid under-the-radar prospect.

18. Jordan Stevenson, RB Nebraska – Four Star

Stevenson is no longer with Nebraska. He quit the team after three months of practice.

19. D’Anfernee McGriff, WR Florida Atlantic – Four Star

He originally signed with Florida to play running back but now he’s playing wide receiver for Florida Atlantic. He caught eight passes for 66 yards and one touchdown last year. McGriff has two more years to make something happen.

20. Andre Robinson, RB Penn State – Four Star

Robinson played second fiddle to Saquon Barkley at Penn State during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He never gained any traction with the team and in December he filed his paperwork to transfer from the program.

21. Ty’Son Williams, RB South Carolina – Four Star

After a freshman season where he logged just 19 carries for 57 yards at North Carolina, Williams decided to transfer to South Carolina. As a redshirt sophomore last year, he ranked second on the team with 95 carries. Keep an eye on him this year, he could be one of those players who breaks out during the last few years of his career.

22. Jay Bradford, RB Texas A&M – Four Star

Due to medical issues, Bradford was unable to play for the Aggies.

23. Javaris Davis, DB Auburn – Four Star

Davis switched positions and is now one of the top defensive backs for Auburn.

24. Natereace Strong, RB Missouri – Four Star

Strong quit the team right before the 2017 season.

25. Darrin Hall, RB Pitt – Four Star

Hall led the team in rushing with 628 yards and nine touchdowns. Although he doesn’t pack much flash, he does have the size to compete at the NFL level. His senior year is going to be very important for his draft stock.

27. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB Vanderbilt – Four Star

Vaughn originally started his career at Illinois but he decided to transfer to Vanderbilt after his sophomore season. He didn’t play in 2017 and is expected to hit the field for the Vandals this season. Vaughn is a very electric runner who has the speed to score from anywhere on the field. If given the right opportunity he could be a star at Vanderbilt.

28. Nick Gibson, RB Mississippi State – Four Star

Aeris Williams is the main back for MSU right now and there are currently not enough touches to go around for Gibson to be productive. In order for him to become a draftable prospect, he will need some luck to fall his way.

The all-purpose backs in this recruiting class had zero five-star prospects. However, the class did deliver a few stud running backs. It’s an interesting mix of players because the rankings consist of primarily scat backs with a few feature backs sprinkled in. It’s interesting to see how these player’s careers evolved, but there are only two backs on the list that are rendered as high-end devy prospects.

2015 All Purpose Backs

1. Taj Griffin, RB Oregon – Four Star

After bouncing back and forth from both running back and receiver positions, Griffin is looking to finally put something together for his senior year. He currently has just 848 yards and six touchdowns in his career. There’s nothing to see here. He doesn’t have the size to compete at the NFL level and doesn’t have the production to warrant anything special.

3. Malik Lovette, DB Oregon – Four Star

During the recruiting process, he was billed as an electrifying all-purpose back. Since then, he has played wide receiver and defensive back for Oregon.

4. Rodney Anderson, RB Oklahoma – Four Star

Anderson broke out last season, rushing for 1,161 yards and 13 touchdowns. He went from all-purpose back to between the tackles grinder. Now considered one of the top running backs in the nation, Anderson has a really bright future ahead of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is one of the first running backs drafted next year.

5. Kirk Merritt, WR Eastern Mississippi – Four Star

Merritt is a speedster who will be finishing his career at Eastern Mississippi (Last Chance U) as a wide receiver.

6. JaMycal Hasty, RB Baylor – Four Star

Hasty is a speedy receiving back who caught 25 passes for 105 yards last season for the Baylor Bears. He needs to have an impact season to have any appeal in devy or dynasty leagues.

7. Bryce Love, RB Stanford – Four Star

Love is one of the top running backs in all of college football. It’s going to be interesting to see how the rest of his career unfolds. This kid has a lot of talent and could develop into a highly valued fantasy asset in the future.

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bruce matson
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