The Big 12 has churned out some of the best running backs in the history of the game. Look at Adrian Peterson out of Oklahoma, and of course, Barry Sanders coming from Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have arguably the best back in the nation returning; that being Chuba Hubbard. His dominance thus far is unquestionable, but can anyone else in the conference sneak up and top him?
1. Chuba Hubbard
First off, let’s look at what Hubbard has done at Oklahoma State, with what could be his final year on the horizon. Last season, Hubbard led the nation with 2,094 yards amid 328 carries. Only three other players eclipsed the 2,000-yard barrier which included Malcolm Perry, J.K. Dobbins, and Jonathan Taylor. All three players will continue playing at the next level after being selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Through two seasons, Hubbard has 452 carries for 2,834 yards and 28 touchdowns. He showed flashes his freshman year, then burst onto the scene by leading the nation in running. While it’s unknown when he’ll opt to go pro, it’s inevitable and he’ll be a top pick.
Some of you will likely say he gets a boost in his yardage due to the abysmal defenses in the conference. Surely he wouldn’t be able to put up those numbers in the BIG 10 or SEC right? Maybe, maybe not, but he puts in the work and earns his yardage. Plus 2,000+ yards is nothing to scoff at.
Hubbard helps bring validity to the Big 12, but how do the other top RB’s in the conference stack up? It’d be hard to look past Pooka Williams Jr. as the second best, and could contend for best with Hubbard. Williams Jr. has a disadvantage by playing for the laughing-stock Kansas Jayhawks team. He IS their offense. They are on the rise with Les Miles taking over the head coaching duties, but they’ll only go as far as Williams Jr. takes them.
2. Pooka Williams
Williams Jr. doesn’t have any eye-popping numbers like Hubbard, but he has shown consistency his first two years. Last season, Williams Jr. toted the ball 203 times for 1,042 yards and three scores. Not quite as sexy as Hubbard’s 20+ scores, but two years of 1,000+ rushing yards has him on the radar.
3. Breece Hall
Up next is a kid who burst onto the scene last season in Ames, Iowa. I’m talking about Breece Hall, who made himself known during his freshman campaign. Iowa State had just lost David Montgomery to the NFL Draft earlier in 2019, and there were big shoes to fill. The Cyclones used the RB by committee approach, but it was Hall who stood out the most. He finished the season with 897 yards and nine scores with 186 carries.
4. SaRodorick Thompson
This next one might come as a surprise, but I think SaRodorick Thompson belongs on this list. The Red Raiders are known for their air raid offense, but Thompson held his own in the backfield. He led the team in rushing during his redshirt freshmen year (2019) tallying 765 yards on 160 carries and scored 12 times. Per the Raid Raiders team website, Thompson was the eighth in school history to lead the team in rushing as a freshman. The last was Da’Leon Ward back in 2015.
5. Keaontay Ingram
Staying in the Lone Star State, the last athlete to make the top five is Keaontay Ingram. The Longhorns haven’t had the best luck with keeping running backs healthy. Amid the talent shines Ingram. Last season, he tallied 144 carries for 853 yards and seven scores. He put up similar numbers his freshman year with two less carries for 708 yards and three scores.
Quarterbacks and wide receivers have stolen the spotlight in recent years, especially with the Sooners. This season could be shifted more towards elite running backs, all of whom have futures destined in the NFL. All five teams will need their backs to have strong seasons to keep up with Oklahoma, the conference’s front-runner, again.
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