cjverdell-1.jpg
USATSI

The MAC and Pac-12 finally returned to action over the weekend and it seems a few running backs within those conferences had been bursting at the seams to play. There were some large performances to come out of those conferences and others. In this 2021 NFL Draft running back watch, some of the top impact performers from the weekend are examined. 

Tyler Allgeier, BYU

There had been a vocal hoard of spectators questioning whether or not BYU was a legitimate Top 10 team considering they had played a weak schedule. After cruising to a 45-3 lead over No. 21 Boise State, it is safe to say some of those critics were silenced. Allgeier's change of direction was a bit rigid but he displayed his vision and breakaway speed on an 86-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. 

Allgeier was responsible for the first and last touchdowns of the game; the second being a 2-yard dive to seal a 51-17 victory. The California native is just a sophomore but will be eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft because he is three years removed from high school. Teammate Zach Wilson has become one of the hottest quarterback prospects in the country.

Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota

Ibrahim has been featured in the running back stock watch this season but his performance against Illinois Saturday was incredible. The Maryland native had 30 carries for 224 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns as well as two receptions for 31 yards. Each of his four touchdowns -- which occurred twice in as many games -- came from within the 5-yard line. He did have a 56-yard rush on the day though. 

Jaret Patterson, Buffalo

The MAC is back, which means more exposure for Patterson. He is smaller in stature but no less physical. The Maryland native is a smooth runner with good contact balance. In the Bulls' opening win over Northern Illinois, Patterson rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. His first was a 5-yard stretch to the right that included a subtle stiff arm and a helmet popping hit at the goal line. The junior's second touchdown was a 56-yard carry down the right boundary. He slowed his feet to stop the momentum of those in pursuit but, honestly, probably did not need it. En route to securing a school record 35th career rushing touchdown, Patterson broke eight tackles, according to PFF

Stevie Scott III, Indiana

Two second-half touchdown runs from Scott allowed the Hoosiers to pull away from Michigan whenever the Wolverines would pull within striking distance. Less than five minutes after Michigan cut the lead to 10, the junior from New York plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score. The same result occurred in the fourth quarter. Coach Tom Allen leaned on the pass game with sophomore Michael Penix Jr. before turning Scott loose in the red zone. The latter finished with 97 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries as well as three receptions for 13 yards. 

Built more like a linebacker, Scott is a physical, between-the-tackles runner. He can be a third down back in the NFL with his ability to protect the passer and catch passes out of the backfield. 

Trey Sermon, Ohio State

The Buckeyes are still taking a committee approach to the run game with Master Teague III and Sermon receiving the bulk of the workload. Five Ohio State running backs toted the rock as they pulled away from Rutgers, 49-27, in Columbus. Sermon, an Oklahoma transfer, finished with 12 carries for 68 yards. It was not the most dominant running back performance that college football has ever seen but it was a step in the right direction for a promising running back prospect. 

Sermon had been a bell cow in the Sooners' offense for two seasons before being noticeably absent in 2019. His season ended prematurely because of an injury that required surgery but his lack of involvement leading up to that moment was a talking point. Sermon, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, has the speed to get to the edge and the wiggle to get away from would-be tacklers. 

CJ Verdell, Oregon

Verdell started the scoring for the Ducks on a day that Stanford kicker Jet Toner would miss four field goals. With the first quarter drawing to a close, Verdell took a pitch from Justin Herbert's successor Tyler Shough and exploded towards the end zone before a collision at the goal line determined whether or not his 5-yard scamper would count for a touchdown; it did. In his season debut, the junior from California received 20 carries for 105 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. He added two receptions for 30 yards. 

Verdell is regarded as a Day 3 selection in my current rankings.