Here is a peek ahead at some of the top running back prospects in the Class of 2015.
Spotlight series: QB Kyler Murray
Considered by many to be the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2014, LSU signee Leonard Fournette set a very high bar for Class of 2015 running backs to follow. Here, we break down five of the best RBs following in Fournette’s footsteps, including scouting report, pro/college comparison and recruiting update. To finish it off, we introduce one under-the-radar recruit to watch.
School: McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.)
Griffin has been on the radar since his junior high days when he posted some of the nation’s top sprint times for his age group. While the speedy playmaker hasn’t put up the gaudy stats of some others, he has continued to be one of the most explosive players when he gets into space. There was no better example of that than his electrifying 85-yard game-winning punt return with a minute remaining in last year’s Georgia Class AAAAAA state quarterfinal against Collins Hill. Expect the honorable mention All-State selection to make plenty more plays like that as a senior in the fall.
Scouting Report: Small frame but not lacking in the speed category. Has explosive quickness to create a big play on every touch. Quick to accelerate through a hole and into the second level. Elusive runner who should excel in a multi-purpose type of role. Check out Griffin’s video highlights here.
Comparison: C.J. Spiller. The explosive Buffalo Bills running back has been a dynamic player since his days at Clemson, where he first displayed his game-breaking abilities on the national stage. Griffin projects to have similar production in the run, pass and return game at the college level.
Recruiting Skinny: Griffin made an unofficial visit to Oregon on March 17, and the Ducks are at the top of his list along with Tennessee, Ohio State, Florida State and a host of others. He has also made an unofficial visit to Tennessee.
School: Madison Southern (Berea, Ky.)
Harris set a high standard for himself as a freshman by rushing for 742 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 62 carries. Even so, he has somehow managed to exceed expectations as a sophomore and junior and now has 5,141 career rushing yards to go with 88 touchdowns and a 12.1 yards-per-carry average. He’ll return as a senior in the fall looking to repeat as the Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year.
Scouting Report: A well-rounded back who can move the chains with inside strength and power or outside speed and elusiveness. Natural running skill set on a solid frame capable of producing in an every-down role. His production and durability have been outstanding. Check out Harris’ video highlights here.
Comparison: Rashard Mendenhall. The recently retired Mendenhall was a complete back, and Harris displays similar well-rounded qualities, including strong burst between the tackles and an extra gear in the second level.
Recruiting Skinny: The one time Michigan pledge still has the Wolverines solidly in the mix along with Ohio State, Auburn, Kentucky and others. He recently picked up offers from Florida State and Alabama.
School: Plano West (Plano, Texas)
Jamabo has been one of the top two-sport standouts in the Dallas area since his freshman year. On the gridiron, the versatile back put together a tremendous sophomore season with more than 2,400 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns before being slowed in his junior season due to a shoulder injury. Despite that, Jamabo still went over 1,000 yards rushing for a second straight season and scored 10 touchdowns. He’s also a talented basketball player on Plano West’s state-ranked hoops squad.
Scouting Report: Jamabo is perhaps a better all-around athlete than he is a pure running back prospect. He possesses a big frame and an impressive blend of size, speed and athleticism. For a taller back he can get behind his pads and break tackles and also has the lateral agility to make defenders miss. His polished pass-catching skills make him a real dynamic weapon. Check out Jamabo’s video highlights here.
Comparison: Ty Isaac. The current USC rising sophomore had a similar hybrid dynamic coming out of high school. Both Isaac and Jamabo have running back and H-back skill sets, which can be valuable in the right scheme.
Recruiting Skinny: Once thought to be a lock for the Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma may now have the upper hand. He attended the Sooners’ Junior Day on Feb. 1, and programs such as Oregon, Baylor, Notre Dame and Alabama are in the mix.
Ronald Jones II
School: McKinney North (McKinney, Texas)
At 6-feet, 165-pounds as a sophomore, Jones was totally off the recruiting radar. But after he added 20 pounds to his frame and racked up eight games with more than 200 yards as a junior, things have changed for this slippery runner. He finished his junior campaign with 2,406 yards and 29 scores and will return as a senior as one of the most highly touted RBs in the nation.
Scouting Report: The ultra-athletic Jones has major physical upside with the potential to retain his current home run speed and elusive footwork. Dangerous with his sudden cutting ability in traffic. Has speed in the second level to separate from even the fastest defensive backs. Check out Jones’ video highlights here.
Comparison: Jamaal Charles. Jones II has similar quickness and body type at the high school stage as the Chiefs Pro Bowler. Charles may have had a bit more speed at this point in his career, but Jones is not that far off.
Recruiting Skinny: Jones has Baylor and Oklahoma at the top of his early list, but February offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, Miami (FL) and a host of others have him taking a slow approach to the process.
School: Hubbard (Ohio)
After rushing for 1,614 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012, the powerful Scott posted 1,681 yards and 22 scores as a junior. He showed his versatility and physicality in limited snaps at linebacker the last two seasons as well, accounting for five interceptions and more than 40 tackles.
Scouting Report: One of the better power backs in this class, Scott brings a speed element to his game as well. A north-south runner with long strides, but also has some wiggle to him. He has the makings of a future workhorse at the college level. Check out Scott’s video highlights here.
Comparison: Melvin Gordon. Scott has similar size as Wisconsin’s All-Big Ten back. Both are bruising runners with comparable stride and deceptive top-end speed.
Recruiting Skinny: Alabama and Ohio State both recently offered, joining a lengthy list that features Michigan State, Auburn and Pittsburgh. Scott has made unofficial visits to West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Ohio State since the beginning of February. The Buckeyes are considered the team to beat.
School: Princeton (N.C.)
Playing at a small school in one of North Carolina’s lowest classifications, Frasier remained under the radar despite rushing for 1,792 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore. It was on the track in the spring of 2013 that Frasier began to catch the eye of observers, clocking an electronically timed 10.74 in the 100 meters. After adding 10 pounds of muscle prior to his junior football season, Frasier piled up a ridiculous 3,872 all-purpose yards to go with 50 touchdowns. He has big-play speed and elusiveness in the open field that will make him a coveted prospect at the next level. On the recruiting front, Frasier has received more than 15 offers since the end of the season, with Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Miami (FL), Florida and Duke leading the way. Check out Frasier’s video highlights here.