Possible unrealistic expectations notwithstanding, we’ve noted several times that incoming Georgia freshman running back Isaiah Crowell could have the greatest impact of any player on the Bulldogs next season. ESPN’s Chris Low echoed that sentiment when he told me on Wednesday, “If Crowell can have three-quarters of the impact that Marcus Lattimore had at South Carolina, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Georgia playing in Atlanta for the SEC championship.”
But here’s what Low didn’t do: Name Crowell one of the 10 best running backs in the SEC.
ESPN’s SEC blogger just came out with his list of the 10 best backs in the conference, and Crowell, the jewel of the Dogs’ incoming class, didn’t make the cut.
When I asked Low about it, he laughed.
“I have him at 10A,” he said.
He said he struggled with the rankings because of the SEC’s depth of talent at running back and considered five players for the last three spots: Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb, Florida’s Chris Rainey, Tennessee’s Tauren Poole, Florida’s Jeffery Demps and Crowell. Demps also was left off.
For what it’s worth, Low recently came out with his list of the SEC’s 10 best quarterbacks and Georgia’s Aaron Murray led the way.
So what are you thoughts on the Crowell being left off? Should we expect greatness right away? Following is Low’s projected top 10:
1. Trent Richardson, Alabama, Jr.: Now we get to see Richardson as Alabama’s go-to back, and it should be something to see. He’s a freak physically and runs through defenders and around them in equally stunning fashion.
2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, So.: I’m sure we’ll hear it from South Carolina fans for not having Lattimore in the No. 1 spot. The truth is that it could go either way. Lattimore has bulked up to 230 pounds, which should help his durability.
3. Knile Davis, Arkansas, Jr.: To have a guy coming off a 1,322-yard season No. 3 on this list tells you how good the running backs are in this league. What separates Davis is that he can get the tough yards and also has the speed to break the long ones.
4. Mike Dyer, Auburn, So.: The Offensive MVP of the BCS National Championship Game a year ago, Dyer will be even better as a sophomore. He’s hard to tackle, runs low to the ground and will be the centerpiece of Auburn’s offense in 2011.
5. Brandon Bolden, Ole Miss, Sr.: In just about any other league, Bolden would be right there at the top. He averaged 6 yards per carry last season and scored 17 touchdowns. He’s also one of the best pass-catching backs in the SEC.
6. Spencer Ware, LSU, So.: The LSU coaches can’t wait to turn Ware loose this coming season. The 5-foot-11, 225-pound sophomore showed off his electrifying moves in the Cotton Bowl last season and will show off even more of them in 2011.
7. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State, Sr.: Nobody knew much about Ballard this time a year ago. They do now after he rushed for 968 yards and 19 touchdowns in his debut season in Starkville after coming over from junior college.
8. Onterio McCalebb, Auburn, Jr.: One of the premier home-run threats in college football, McCalebb is a quick-strike touchdown waiting to happen. Just ask LSU from a year ago. McCalebb has also bulked up and is more durable than he was when he arrived on the Plains.
9. Chris Rainey, Florida, Sr.: When he returned from his suspension last season, Rainey was the Gators’ top playmaker. Charlie Weis will see to it that Rainey gets touches as both a runner and receiver, and when he gets a step, look out.
10. Tauren Poole, Tennessee, Sr.: He’s not a burner, and he’s not exceptionally big, but Poole runs with his heart on his sleeve. He rushed for 1,034 yards last season and tied for the SEC lead with six 100-yard games.
Looking forward to the debate on this.
By Jeff Schultz