Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A potent ground game can mask a litany of
problems for a program, as shortening the game with extended drives is a
recipe for success.
With that in mind, here is a list of the top tailbacks in the FBS for the 2013
KA'DEEM CAREY (Arizona) - No player in the country made a bigger splash on the
national scene save for "Johnny Football" down in College Station. The 5-
foot-10, 196-pound Carey burst on the scene as a sophomore in 2012, leading
the nation in rushing with 1,929 yards, scoring a whopping 23 touchdowns on
the ground, while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. A workhorse in Rich
Rodriguez's offensive scheme, expect to see a lot more of the talented All-
American. That is of course, if he can stay on the field. Injuries aren't a
concern, but rather Carey's decision making. He has had a couple of run-ins
with the law in the last six months and it remains to be seen if Carey's
behavior will continue to be a problem in the desert.
D'ANTHONY THOMAS (Oregon) - There may not be a more dangerous player with the
ball in his hands than this Oregon Duck. Simply put ... Thomas can do it all,
as evidenced by his amazing 2012 campaign where he rushed for 701 yards and 11
TDs on 7.6 ypc, while catching 45 balls for 455 yards and five more scores.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound speedster wasn't done there however, adding two more
touchdowns on special teams, taking both a kickoff and a punt return the
distance. Chip Kelly is no longer calling the shots in Eugene, but new coach
Mark Helfrich will get the ball in Thomas' hands early and often in 2013,
BISHOP SANKEY (Washington) - The run of top-notch tailbacks in the Pac-12
continues with the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Sankey. Head coach Steve Sarkisian may
not have had the season he had hoped for in 2012, but it wasn't because of a
lack of production from Sankey, as the then sophomore posted the school's
third-most rushing yards in a season (1,439). He closed out the year with a
205-yard effort against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, and finished with
16 rushing scores on an even 5.0 yards per carry. Another year of seasoning in
the Pac-12 could push Sankey into elite status around the time NFL teams start
looking for a franchise back next year.
T.J. YELDON (Alabama) - A conveyor belt of talent in Tuscaloosa's backfield
continues in 2013, with the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Yeldon. Despite splitting
carries with Eddie Lacy, Yeldon carved out a terrific freshman campaign,
earning Freshman All-America honors after rushing for 1,108 yards and 12
touchdowns on 6.3 yards per carry. There is little chance that a sophomore
slump is on the horizon for Yeldon, who should see his workload increase as
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide set out for a third straight national championship.
If Alabama is able to find its way into title contention once again, there is
little doubt that Yeldon will play a huge role.
TODD GURLEY (Georgia) - Gurley provided instant impact as a freshman in 2012
for the Bulldogs, rushing for 1,385 yards and a freshman school-record 17
touchdowns. Not many teams were able to contain the 6-foot-1, 232-pound
youngster, including two-time defending national champion Alabama and its
vaunted defense, which relinquished 122 yards and two TDs to the Georgia
standout in the SEC title tilt. With the ability to run through and around
defenders, the sky is the limit for Gurley, and in turn for the Bulldogs as a
whole in 2013.
DUKE JOHNSON (Miami-Florida) - A highly touted recruit coming into 2012 at
Miami, this 5-foot-9, 190-pound youngster did not disappoint. He was actually
second on the team in carries with just 139, but certainly made the most of
those, rushing for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns on an impressive 6.8 yards per
carry. Another dynamic playmaker with the versatility to score in a number of
ways, Johnson could be just guy to return the Hurricanes to gridiron glory.
DAMIEN WILLIAMS (Oklahoma) - Now that Landry Jones has moved on to the NFL,
there is every reason to believe that there will be more of a balanced
offensive attack in Norman this season. Bob Stoops will likely get more
conservative with a new signal-caller under center, and Williams could be the
primary benefactor. In Oklahoma's pass-happy offense a year ago, the 5-
foot-11, 215-pounder still rushed for just under 1,000 yards (946) and 11
touchdowns. More focus on the ground game should inflate Williams' numbers,
and put the Sooners in position to contend for the Big 12 crown.
SILAS REDD (USC) - The former Penn State Nittany Lion is now all settled in at
USC and had a strong debut with the Trojans in what was otherwise a
disappointing season for the Trojans in 2012. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Redd
rushed for 905 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry last
season. Redd led the Trojans in rushing, but split the workload with Curtis
McNeal, who has since departed. As the go-to-guy in the backfield in 2013,
much more is expected of Redd, who could deliver in a huge way for the
CARLOS HYDE (Ohio State) - By no means a threat to score every time he touches
the ball, Hyde is a different breed than the rest of the players on this list,
as he is a bruising back that is simply tough to bring down. The 6-foot, 242-
pounder was a stabilizing force in the backfield for Urban Meyer in 2012, as
he rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry. A big reason
that Ohio State was able to run the table last season, Hyde will do his part
in keeping the win streak going this fall.
ANTONIO ANDREWS (Western Kentucky) - The most productive player in the country
last year did not reside in a power conference, but rather the Sun Belt in the
form of the 6-foot, 211-pound Andrews. In his first season as the team's
workhorse, Andrews led Western Kentucky in all-purpose yards (3,161), rushing
yards (1,728), carries (304), kick return yards (726) and punt return yards
(234). His all-purpose yardage total was the second-highest in FBS history,
behind only Barry Sanders. Andrews had four games in which he eclipsed 300
all-purpose yards last year. Expect more on the same in 2013, as the senior
should once again run roughshod over the competition.
HONORABLE MENTION: Lache Seastrunk (Baylor), John Hubert (Kansas State), James
White (Wisconsin), James Wilder, Jr. (Florida State), Ameer Abdullah
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