Since the beginning of the SEC, the running back position has been one of the most important positions in football. The SEC has produced some of the best running backs in the game such as Emmitt Smith, Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Terrell Davis. The SEC has also produced some of the best active running backs such as Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette and Sony Michel. While the SEC did lose some of their backs like Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris, Jordan Scarlett and Elijah Holyfield to the NFL, the SEC still has some of the best running backs in the country. Here are the top five running backs in the SEC heading into the 2019 season.
Najee Harris, Alabama
The University of Alabama has produced top level talent at the running back position every single season. This season, Najee Harris should be the next star running back at the University of Alabama. In his first two seasons, Harris was buried in the depth chart with two other very good running backs in Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. This is the season when Najee Harris should be the #1 back in Alabama’s depth chart. Harris was very productive last season as he had 117 carries for 783 yards and four touchdowns. He might be the most talented running back on this list but he hasn’t showed it yet. Don’t be surprised if he rushes for over 1,000 yards and over 10 touchdowns even with top freshman running back Trey Sanders right behind him.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
The oldest running back on this list is the redshirt-senior Ke’Shawn Vaughn out of Vanderbilt. In his first two seasons, Vaughn played at the University of Illinois and had over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2017, he transferred to Vanderbilt and sat out his junior season. In his one season at Vanderbilt, Vaughn became one of their most important players on the team. As a redshirt-junior, he had 157 carries for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also had 13 receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns. With Kyle Shurmur in the NFL, most expect Vaughn to be the most important player on Vanderbilt’s offense.
Lamical Perine, Florida
The Florida Gators are coming off a great 2018 season and one of the reasons for their great season was senior running back Lamical Perine. The Alabama native will finally be the feature back for Florida after sharing carries with Jordan Scarlett. Perine has been Florida’s most consistent back since he arrived on Florida’s campus. He is coming off his best season at the University of Florida. In his junior season, Perine had 134 carries for 826 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had thirteen receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown in the Peach Bowl. Perine should be one of the top running backs in the SEC and country by the time the 2019 season comes to an end.
Larry Rountree III, Missouri
Larry Rountree III was one of the breakout stars from the 2018 season, and makes the list at #2. The junior running back out of Missouri had a terrific sophomore season and helped lead the Tigers offense with Drew Locke. In his sophomore season, Rountree III had 225 carries for 1,216 yards and eleven touchdowns. Rountree III will share some carries with Damarea Crockett in the 2019 season but in order for Roundtree to have a better season, he needs to be more involved in the passing game. The Tigers replaced first round pick Drew Locke with former Clemson starting quarterback Kelly Bryant. With Bryant as the starting QB, Roundtree will most likely be featured little more in the passing game.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia
There’s no surprise here but the #1 SEC running back heading into the Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. The junior running back is already projected to be taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Swift is coming off a great sophomore season in which he shared carries with Elijah Holyfield. In his sophomore season, Swift had 163 carries for 1,049 yards and ten touchdowns. He also had 32 carries for 297 yards and three touchdowns. With Holyfield in the NFL, Swift should get the majority of carries and have another 1,000 yard rushing season. Don’t be surprised if Swift also had 500 receiving yards since Georgia lost most of their receiving production from the 2018 season.