No Herschel Walkers on the horizon in recruiting

They just don't make 'em like Herschel Walker anymore. (AJC photo)

They just don't make 'em like Herschel Walker anymore. (AJC photo)

Much has been made this week about the fact that the next touchdown scored by Florida’s Tim Tebow will break Herschel Walker’s SEC career record for rushing touchdowns (49). Well, officially anyway.

But this is not another who’s-the-greatest-college-player-Tebow-or-Walker debate. There will be enough scribes weighing in on that this week as it is. And they’re both once-in-a-lifetime players, in my opinion.

What it got me thinking about is the type of tailback that Walker was. He was big — 6-foot-2, 222 pounds — and fast — with a 10.23-second, 100-meter dash still sitting fifth in the UGA track record book. He could run through you, jump over you or run by you. An athletic freak really.

There have been others of Herschel’s ilk, of course. Auburn’s Bo Jackson (6-1, 225) is the first who comes to everyone’s mind, though his college numbers pale in comparison. And of course Earl Campbell of Texas was big and strong (5-11, 232) and tremendously productive, but not nearly as fast. Ohio State’s Eddie George was even bigger (6-3, 235) but not as fast and he didn’t lift his team to such heights. And Jim Brown (6-2, 232) was around before any of them.

But where are these running backs today? Where is the next Herschel or Bo? Isn’t it about time for him to come along?

The reality is, athletes like Herschel simply aren’t playing tailback anymore. With the advent of more spread-option attacks and the pigeon-holing of recruiting, they’re lining up at another position.

“If you’re 6-feet or 6-1 especially nowadays you’re not really a running back,” said Chad Simmons, Southern recruiting manager for Scout.com. “You just don’t have those guys anymore. Most of those guys are moved to linebacker or even stand-up defensive ends.”

Few recall that All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers actually rushed for 3,501 yards and 46 touchdowns as a 6-foot-5 high school running back.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, for one, believes another Herschel Walker will emerge eventually.

“Well, I just think one day another guy will come along that fits that description and somebody will decide to not play him at linebacker and let him run the ball,” Richt said. ” Now I think Herschel was a one-of-a-kind, not to say Bo Jackson wasn’t special because he was. But they were a little bit different in their type. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another big, giant guy become the thing again. They just don’t come along that often.”

Certainly not lately. A quick check of the top running back prospects in the nation reveals very few Herschel-like prospects. The consensus top three in both Rivals.com and Scout.com are Lache Seastrunk (5-11, 190), Marcus Lattimore (6-0, 210) and Micheal Dyer (5-8, 200). The top-ranked back in Georgia, M.L. King’s Mack Brown, is 5-11, 185.

There are two big backs in the respective top 10s. Ohio State commitment Roderick Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind.,  is a 6-3, 220-pound running back. But his 40-yard time is listed as 4.80, hardly Herschel-esque. And Anthony Barr of Loyola, Calif., is 6-4, 225, and reportedly runs a sub-4.6. But most of the schools recruiting him (Notre Dame, UCLA, USC) don’t project him as a running back in college.

The closest thing we’ve probably had lately is Wisconsin’s 6-foot-1, 248-pound back John Clay. But he was redshirted as a freshman and hasn’t been nearly as productive as the aforementioned stars.

Georgia has a bigger back right now in sophomore Richard Samuel (6-2, 220) but he’s had fumble and production issues and may end up at linebacker before it’s all over.

“Haven’t seen it,” Simmons, who travels the South evaluating talent, said of a Herschel-like backs. “ Guys like Herschel just haven’t come along. If there is another Herschel that comes along he’ll probably play linebacker. It’s just hard to find a back with that size, that kind of vision and that kind of explosion.”

Not many quarterbacks like Tebow either, for that matter. But that’s a discussion for another day.

116 comments Add your comment

Drew

October 28th, 2009
2:17 am

Jon Dwyer is right here in our own backyard??….

bkbroila

October 28th, 2009
3:51 am

Please do not compare Dwyer to Herschel Walker…don’t be a dipstick!

Jason

October 28th, 2009
3:55 am

Herschel wasn’t a Herschel until he played for UGA. With all of the media and website hype of high school players and the recruiting madness, everyone thinks they will be the next Herschel and all the outlets want to be the first to report about the “next Herschel” but always seems to be a lot of hot air.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

October 28th, 2009
4:20 am

Jason maybe you weren’t around then or just a baby but Herschel was Herschel well before he went to UGA….. he was the most highly recruited player in the country as a JUNIOR and was interviewd and written about in magazines and newspapers across the country. He revealed later that he flipped a coin because he couldn’t decide between UGA and Auburn – so maybe Dooley didn’t do the greatest recruiting job of all time after all – he just got lucky. Herschel made Dooley a great coach – not the other way around.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

October 28th, 2009
4:30 am

Dweyer is a good straight ahead RB and he is big but he does not have the power or speed that Herschel had and Herschel was just plain mean on the football field – he would run over a LB like he was a CB and the guy would be lucky iff he didn’t have to be carted off of the field.

BAMA FAN #2

October 28th, 2009
5:44 am

Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson best SEC running backs of all time!! Why Bo went to Auburn and growing up in Bessmer, Alabama 30 minutes from Tuscaloosa I will never understand!! RTR

RedKneckerson

October 28th, 2009
5:47 am

What about ole “scooter” Greenberg? He was a bigger type back with lots of power. And as the name suggests he could really run.

DDT

October 28th, 2009
6:09 am

Did somebody on this blog actually compare Jonathan Dwyer to Herschel Walker? LMAO! ROFL!

Hedgepruner

October 28th, 2009
6:12 am

Eddie Lee Ivery at TECH was pretty good too, one game in the snow against Air Force he ran for 350 yards ….THWG

Scot Waldrop

October 28th, 2009
6:21 am

You guys are so myopic when it comes to UGA, that you failed to comprehend the point of the article. Which is, there are very few big backs, like HW, anymore. No one is comparing anyone to anyone. Fact is Dwyer is a big back with great speed (100 m champ at Kell HS). Is he HW, no, but is a pretty good player even if he goes to GT.

CMR chose to recruit Caleb King over Jon Dwyer?

hiveredtech

October 28th, 2009
6:28 am

Good grief…if you are going to try to rattle off examples of big backs in college today…and you mention John Clay and Richard Samuels, how on God’s green earth do you not mention Atlanta’s own ACC Player of the Year in Jon Dayer (6-1, 240) and runs a 4.4 forty. He runs over (latest evidence the UVA DB last weekend) or around you (I think UGA’s DB makes a pretty good example last yesr!. He may not be Herschel or Bo…but if you are simply looking for “big backs that have speed” you only need to stay in Atlanta at G-Tech!

Dan Marino

October 28th, 2009
6:42 am

Jamal Lewis was big and fast. Impossible to tackle. Had lots of injuries, though.

Brandon Jacobs is big and fast, but could not get on the field with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn.

Michael Turner is short, but weighs more than Herschel ever did, and he has track speed. His college numbers at N. Illinois were very good.

Adrian Peterson was a clone of Herschel, but he got hurt, another thing that set Herschel apart.

hiveredtech

October 28th, 2009
6:50 am

Good examples Mr. Marino. I do not think the big back is dead…I think most offenses commitment and patience to run the ball is dead.

RomeDawg

October 28th, 2009
7:18 am

Hershel was the Greatest Of All Time! All 10 of him. LOL!

GT Jeff

October 28th, 2009
7:28 am

If Jon Dwyer played A Back, he would average close to 200 yds. a games. He plays full back. If GT ran student body left or right all game, then he would win the Heisman. You can compare him to HW but Herschel probably had a little more speed (I am the same age as HW and saw him many times). JD has great speed and is the best running back in the country.

Dalton Jackitup

October 28th, 2009
7:40 am

Red Devil

October 28th, 2009
7:45 am

Surely you gest! Loganville’s Storm Johnson is the man you’re looking for. 6′1, 217, and he ain’t no line backer. Oh, I know Chad took him off his list when he left Buford.

Devil Dog

October 28th, 2009
7:49 am

I’m with you. Send that man a video. Better yet, come to a game and watch Storm run behind his pads until he gets in the secondary, and he’s gone!

Football Fan

October 28th, 2009
7:54 am

One may be closer to showing than you think. Parkview High School has a fr. running back named Anthony Covington that is certainly on track to be that type of back.Still only 14 years old he is 5′-11″ about 185 and from what I understand runs the 40 consistently in the 4.50’s. If you have watched football in the Gwinnett Football League, then you have seen his ability to run through or run by defenders and he is not doing too bad as a Fr. seeing some reps at varsity this season. you can see highlights from his 2007 and 2008 season on YouTube. I expect to hear this kids name mentionedin the next couple of years. By the way…I hear he is equally as talented in basketball too !

JD

October 28th, 2009
8:01 am

Why does the sports nation continue trying to compare other running backs to Herschel Walker? There is no comparison. This cat(or Dawg) had it all at such a young age. By far the greatest college running back ever. He has one Heisman but I think everyone knows he should have three.

Jonathan Dwyer is the next great NFL running back. Has anyone ever looked at his body control while he is running. This kid has studied film and done a lot of homework. Paul Johnson you are the MAN! Great job at Tech. Please pass some of your intensity and commanding presence on the sideline down the road to Athens. Someone down there needs it.

ratherBgambling

October 28th, 2009
8:07 am

The size and speed of Walker are a once in a generation combo. Dwyer is a fantastic back but not in Walkers league.

Buddha

October 28th, 2009
8:28 am

I was around to see Herschel and Bo. I even got to see Bo play a game for the Royals after college – he wasn’t hard to miss from up in the middle of the stands. Taking shag balls during fielding practice, he looked like Gulliver among the Lilliputians.

Around those years, I got to take in a Harvard-Columbia game in Boston. Used to the big, powerful backs in the SEC around that time, I thought it was, well, kinda cute that the two ivy league colleges had 180-pound backs lined up in a power I formation. Wouldn’t have looked so weird these days.

dawgster

October 28th, 2009
8:29 am

Hey Flo-Ri-Duh, I believe it was a coin flip between Georgia and Clemson, but that really important…To compare J.Dwyer to Herschel is absurd, I agree he is a very good back and probably do very well in the pros, but even if he was lined up in the I-back formation on a regular basis, he wouldn’t have come close to Herschel’s records…anyone Tech fans that believe otherwise are dawghaters and cannot give an unbiased opinion….

Johnny DangerDawg

October 28th, 2009
8:34 am

How many *linebackers* can run a 10.23-second, 100-meter dash?

Johnny DangerDawg

October 28th, 2009
8:36 am

Buddha,
Good stuff.

cattledawg

October 28th, 2009
9:01 am

I saw where dwyer was the 3rd best running back in upcoming nfl draft.

AthensSG

October 28th, 2009
9:09 am

We had another guy that looked promising, Tim Worley. Big and fast – had some long runs, but was here with 2 other good backs, Henderson and Tate. Steelers thought he had a promising career ahead, but got on drugs. What a waste…

Master of the Obvious

October 28th, 2009
9:24 am

Storm Johnson like Herschel? Really? Wow, time for Storm’s Daddy to get off of his computer.

collegeballfan

October 28th, 2009
9:24 am

I was lucky enough to get to see three Heisman winners live in person on the football field – Gary Beban, Herschel & BO. They all had something special that separated them from the other players on the field.

I am a Tech fan and I tell you I saw Herschel & BO & I have seen Dwyer,
and Dwyer is no Herschel or BO.

GT

October 28th, 2009
9:30 am

Dwyer is way better than Walker. Not even close!

Bryan G.

October 28th, 2009
9:43 am

I’m going to assume, GT, that you forgot to activiate your “sarcasm font.”

Chip Towers

October 28th, 2009
9:46 am

RAMBLE ON!!! This is not a blog about when Georgia will get the “next Herschel.” The point is there is no sign of a Herschel coming along anywhere for anybody. . . .

GT: I love Jonathan Dwyer. Awesome football player. Not even in the same area code as Herschel. . . .

AthensSG: I, too, thought Tim Worley was going to be the next big thing. And he was darn good. But, again, no Herschel. . . .

FootballFan: I’m surprised 14-year-old Anthony Covington doesn’t have a scholarship offer yet. . . .

Johnny DangerDawg: Good point, though Richard Samuel is pretty fast and may end up at linebacker.

Porty

October 28th, 2009
9:50 am

No HW’s on the horizon, huh? Guess UGa won’t need to be springing for any black Trans Am’s like they did for him.

Paul

October 28th, 2009
9:54 am

Jonathan Dwyer is probably the closest any back has come to Herschel…he has got incredible speed and acceleration for such a big guy and is very tough…but Herschel is still the best.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq9Yme2gczU

Blindog

October 28th, 2009
9:59 am

GT you are an idiot if you really beleave that!Watch some videos of Herschal and eat those words.Dwyer is good but Walker was a man playing against boys!

Kenny

October 28th, 2009
10:05 am

Darren McFadden was in that same class as far all-time SEC running backs. He should have won at least one Heisman. He was big, stong, and incredibly fast.

Tee M.

October 28th, 2009
10:07 am

I got to see Hershel sweep left and right and then up the middle several times and he was in a class all his on. Now the stat that he’s 6′2″ wasn’t accurate because I stood next to him for a picture a couple of years ago and he’s about 6′0″. Another running back that has not been mentioned was George Rogers, who also was gifted with power, speed and vision.

Dan Marino

October 28th, 2009
10:31 am

Wow, it is amazing how quickly Darren McFadden and Adrian Peterson have been forgotten.

Brian

October 28th, 2009
10:38 am

I think that HW was one of the greatest backs ever in the NCAA. Could one of the reasons we don’t see any backs of his caliber be due to more than his brilliance though? The game has changed and players involved have all gotten bigger and faster at all positions. I think it is just harder for one player to be at such a different level right now. It would take an athlete that was unimaginable (Bolt like speed and fullback power) to have the discrepancy that HW presented back then. With all the weight training and year round football commitment the natural advantage some players had athletically is just not there to be taken advantage of anymore. Though AP is trying his best for the Vikings.

Clint

October 28th, 2009
10:40 am

I just love how people think Tim Tebow is so special. QBs in Meyer’s system thrive. Hell Alex Smith put up big enough numbers to be the top pick in the draft under Meyer. We’ve all seen how well that has turned out. If you put Tebow in any other system, he doesn’t start at QB. I’ve seen middle schoolers with better arms than him. He’s nothing more than a glorified fullback. Harvin, Murphy, and the other speed WRs made him look good the past two years by taking his 5 yrd passes and turning them into 60 yarders. Now that he doesn’t have NFL talent at WR, Florida fans are calling for him to be benched. He’s a joke of a player. Great leader and emotional team guy, but not an elite QB.

Chip Towers

October 28th, 2009
11:17 am

Dan Marino, Kenny: Darren McFadden and Adrian Peterson are good examples. But if McFadden were on the same par as Herschel, he would have led the Hogs to a national championship or at least at SEC title. . . .

Now Peterson, that’s the best example yet and probably as close as we’re going to get. He’s 6-1, 217 and very similar in that he rushed for 1,925 yards, had an NCAA most 339 carries and finished second in the Heisman balloting as a freshman. Missed four games as a sophomore and more as a junior but still managed 4,045 yards in three seasons. Herschel had 5,259 in three but, again, that’s Herschel.

Chip Towers

October 28th, 2009
11:18 am

Clint: If Urban Meyer got a Herschel he’d probably play him at quarterback. . . . Wait a minute. I think that’s what he did!

C tha 1

October 28th, 2009
11:31 am

Adrian Peterson is the closet thing you will ever see to Hershel Walker. Think of it this way Hershel may have had the better college career, AD’s pro career will top Hershel’s when it’s all said and done.

C tha 1

October 28th, 2009
11:33 am

I mean did anyone actually see how AD absolutely trucked that poor guy from Pittsburgh this past Sunday and how he embarrassed the Brown on the run at the beginning of the season…he literally gave them the Heisman.

Clint

October 28th, 2009
11:54 am

Oh it’s going to be so much fun to watch Tebow crash and burn in the NFL. He’s going to be remembered along the lines of Gino Torreta, Jason White, Andre Ware, Danny Wuerful, and all the other Heisman winning QBs that proved they were not worth anything in the pros.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

October 28th, 2009
11:55 am

Two I saw this past week. Imani Cross (So) with Flowery Branch and a kid from West Forsyth, don’t know his name but he is big and looked fast. I think he had close to 600 yeards in 2 weeks. The big back seems to be a thing of the past but was common in the 80’s with Dickerson, Campbell, Rogers, Walker, Jackson,

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

October 28th, 2009
12:02 pm

Tee M. And Rogers had the size, he was at least 6′2″. Probably weighed 210 to 215 in HS. Played center on the basketball team at Duluth. There was a back a Central Gwinnett, (Timmy Smith?) that would have been the next Walker. Had over 1,000 yards his Freshman year. Dominated but got in trouble never to be heard from again.

Ryan

October 28th, 2009
12:16 pm

All the big, fast players PLAY DEFENSE.

UT96

October 28th, 2009
12:17 pm

Curious, what was Herschel’s stats as a pro and were his stats good enough to get him into the hall of fame. PS- I would have loved to seen him in a Falcon uniform.

wesleywhatwhat

October 28th, 2009
12:19 pm

lol. an article on big, fast runing backs, and not a mention of jonathan dwyer?

this article is a joke. just another excuse to talk about the glory years that aren’t coming back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq9Yme2gczU