Are running backs running away?

Interesting post up at Roll Bama Roll about how the current devolution of reliance on a stud running back in the NFL may be having an effect on the Tide’s recruiting.  It may already be having a ripple effect in college, as these charts indicate:




It’s not that colleges and pro teams don’t need a running game. It’s just that the nature of how those teams construct a running game has changed.  And that’s having an effect on the value of running backs.  We saw evidence of that in this past draft, where the first running back taken wasn’t until pick #54.

As far as recruiting goes, if you’re a running back, you’re a running back and that’s it.  But what if you’re a talented high school player who has the ability to show out at more than one position?  Is that RBs are getting paid less to do their thing on Sundays going to impact your decision on how you want to be recruited?  I don’t know, but I do find it interesting that the current Alabama recruiting class, nineteen commits strong, only has one running back in its numbers.

Now I know that ‘Bama, like Georgia, isn’t the most attractive place to draw running back recruits for 2015, given the depth the school has at the position, so I don’t want to read too much into that.  But I’ll be curious to see if there’s something to this longer term – especially because Georgia has very similar needs on offense to Alabama’s.


Filed under Recruiting

13 responses to “Are running backs running away?

  1. Deutschland Domiciliary Dog

    Also to consider: career longevity of NFL running backs verses that of NFL quarterbacks.

    Fran Tarkenton played, what, 17 years in the NFL. What running back played so many seasons? I don’t know there are any.


  2. Rp

    I wonder how many cfb coaches are now pitching: “come to university x and you will get fewer carries” to some of the top rb’s. If you are 5* and feel like you don’t need a million carries to prove yourself, I think a lot of guys would rather coast through 3 yrs with 15 carries per game and save the body for the nfl.


  3. 69Dawg

    I think you will see that if a high school player is good enough to play WR or RB they will opt for WR at the next level. That’s were the money is now.


  4. KitteryDawg

    that all being said; offenses are also running about 20 – 25 more plays per game as well


    • There’s one leading figure that hasn’t bought in, though – the Ole Ball Coach himself. He’ll ride Mike Davis this year ’til he drops to the ground.


  5. W Cobb Dawg

    I suppose the trend is toward more pass happy offenses. The rules have been adjusted to accommodate that type of O. Perhaps when refs start calling holding again, RBs will regain their stature. I believe the UGA and bama offenses do their best when they have relatively big RBs that can break it loose or get the tough yards. A healthy Todd Gurley would put any runningbacks-are-devolving thoughts to rest.


  6. Michael

    What kind of impact does this potential change have on the OL? It would seem to me that transitioning from a run focused offense to a pass heavy offense would alter the type and build of offensive linemen you need to recruit, particularly to be suited for the 20 – 25 more players per game that are typically being run.


  7. DawgByte

    The estimated life cycle of an elite running back has been dramatically reduced over the last 10-15 years in the NFL, which I think is directly impacting those graphs. In the SEC if you’re a power set team like UGA and Bama you can no longer count on one RB, you’ll be rotating at least 2-3 backs, because of injuries.

    The bigger question to me is why these backs aren’t more durable? Sure defensive players are getting bigger, stronger and faster over the last 20 years, but it’s not like the RB’s are getting slower and wimpier. Hell, look at the Chubbanator, he’s built like a LB.


  8. Junkyardawg41

    Two things in play here. At the CFB level, the stats are deceiving due to the number of plays where the QB is running the ball… Those numbers are not included. At the pro level, the emphasis on passing can’t be understated. Having said that, the NFL game is still reliant on a running game. Is it the focus? No. But it is critical to be able to run the ball to keep Defense honest. Make no mistake. Running the ball and defending the ball in CFB is and will always be a mainstay to winning championships. Whether that is a single back or multiple backs, the key is productivity out of the RBs. The play action is reliant upon that. If it wasn’t, Hal Mumme/June Jones would have won the last 10 BCS championships.