Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
With the Alabama Crimson Tide landing the top recruiting class of 2013, Tide fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Not so for head coach Nick Saban, who has already had his eye on the class of 2014 for a while.
While everyone else has been preparing for the apocalypse by gathering together canned goods and water, the University of Alabama has been busy stockpiling 5-star running backs. That trend has already continued for the class of 2014 with the early commitment of jumbo athlete Bo Scarborough. However, since Scarborough’s position isn’t quite set in stone, his breakdown can be seen next week when we get to “Athletes.”
Today we continue our 2014 position by position breakdown as we check in at the running back position. Here are 3 to keep an eye on:
Racean “Rock” Thomas
5’11” 195 lb
Add Racean Thomas’s name to the growing list of talented running backs from the state of Alabama. The gifted all-purpose back has amassed nearly 4,000 yards from scrimmage and over 45 touchdowns during his previous two seasons at Oxford High School. He reports a 4.47 40 yard dash and a 37” vertical.
Thomas was set to commit to Alabama during the fall of 2012, but eventually decided to hold off while he focused on his junior season of football. Thomas has been offered by nearly every school in the country, but that doesn’t mean the Tide isn’t still the team to beat for his signature.
"“They’re on top. They have really great coaches. They helped me out when they worked with me at camp. I think they could make me a better player. There’s a good education down there and the academics are great. They always have a great O-Line that gets the job done and always produce great backs.”"
Judging from the statements above and Thomas’s near commitment last fall, it seems a tall task for any school to pull him away from the Crimson Tide.
6’0” 220 lb
New Orleans, LA
Fournette is undoubtedly the best running back prospect from the class of 2014. When watching tape, the first thing anyone notices is his size. But any notion that he’s simply a power back is quickly shattered the moment he beats his defender to the sideline and outraces everyone for another long score. Over the course of his junior season he rushed for 2,136 yards and 31 touchdowns on only 196 carries; an average of 10.9 yards per carry.
How highly thought of is Fournette? He received his first scholarship offer from LSU as a freshman after only his second varsity football game. And now, entering his senior season, he reportedly has over 100 offers from every corner of the country. Whichever team Fournette decides to sign with will get a kid who’s already physically ready to withstand the gauntlet of an SEC schedule. While LSU is ultimately considered to be the team to beat for Fournette’s signature, Alabama is clearly in the thick of things. Don’t be surprised if this battle drags on until signing day.
5’10” 210 lb
With each recruiting cycle it’s becoming obvious that today’s kids are more physically ready than ever to withstand the rigors of an NCAA football season. Nick Chubb is rated anywhere from the 15th best back to the 40th best back in the class of 2014, but at 5’10” 210 pounds, he’d have been considered a lock to be one of the top 5 backs in the country a decade or so ago. In 2012 alone, Chubb rushed for 2,717 yards and 39 touchdowns and was named All-State.
When asked to comment on Chubbs 393 yard performance earlier last season, his coach responded:
"“He might not put up 300 every week, but he’s special. He’s a very, very hard-working, dedicated young man who is very driven and disciplined in everything he does. His GPA is like 3.8.”"
In other words, he’s the type of player coaches love to build their teams around. Chubb, like the other running backs on this list, has been offered by nearly every major school in the country. Georgia is the early team to beat for Chubb’s signature with Alabama and Georgia Tech slightly behind.