All eyes were on CBS Saturday night as No. 3 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama waged war in Tuscaloosa. Two of the running backs in that game are among the most heavily discussed prospects in the potential 2021 NFL Draft class. One of those players validated his position in that game.
Here are some of the standout running backs from this weekend's college football action:
Leddie Brown, West Virginia
Brown had a massive day recording 195 rushing yards and one touchdown on 18 carries as well as five receptions for 36 yards and one touchdown. The Kansas defense was providing little resistance as the Philadelphia native burst through the Jayhawks' defensive front seven midway through the third quarter for an 86-yard touchdown. At the time, the score was 10-17 and still in question. The Brown rushing touchdown was the beginning of a 21-7 run to seal the victory.
Brown has averaged 128.75 rushing yards per game in 2020.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris was a workhorse for Alabama Saturday night. Nick Saban has never been afraid to give an individual running back 20+ carries per game. In 15 games during Derrick Henry's final season at Alabama, he averaged 26.33 carries per game. He topped 40 carries in an individual game twice that year. Harris is averaging a little less than 21 carries per game this season.
On Saturday against Georgia, he rushed 31 times for 152 yards and one touchdown. The California native is a threat to catch passes out of the backfield and is more than willing to block for his teammates as well. There is nothing that a team could not ask him to do on the football field.
Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky
The defense spurred UK's upset win over No. 18 Tennessee but it was the run game that allowed them to drain the clock. Rodriguez is a physical runner, similar to Benny Snell. The sophomore from Georgia rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries. The Wildcats like to divvy up carries so one player is never going to average 20.75 carries per game like the aforementioned Harris. When Kentucky is in a short-yardage situation, they turn to Rodriguez, who has four rushing touchdowns this season.
The running back had UK's longest rush of the day, 25 yards. He is a bit one-dimensional, however, recording just one reception for two yards in his career.
Zamir White, Georgia
White had ten of the team's 23 running back carries against Alabama. The result of those carries was 57 yards and one touchdown. His 5.7 yards per carry average is impressive considering his longest run of the day was 12 yards. His 10-yard touchdown run came behind right guard Ben Cleveland and right tackle Warren McClendon, who had pulled to seal the inside. White had to break a few arm tackles to slip into the end zone. The Bulldogs were forced to abandon the run late when Alabama went on a 24-0 run.
For years, the strength of Georgia's rushing attack has been depth. They did not pummel the likes of Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel into the ground by overusing them. Those players went on to achieve significant NFL success. The same is playing out with White.
More often than not, it felt as though young running backs were providing the largest sparks across college football. Tennessee sophomore Eric Gray has been fantastic this season. Auburn freshman Tank Bigsby is taking on a larger role with each passing week and making the most of it. Ole Miss sophomore Jerrion Ealy has been lightning in a bottle for the Rebels. Georgia Tech freshman Jahmyr Gibbs looks like he is going to be really good. Texas A&M sophomore Isaiah Spiller and Iowa State sophomore Breece Hall put up video game numbers every week. Notre Dame sophomore Kyren Williams rushed for over 100 yards for the third time in four games. Georgia's Kendall Milton flashed a few times against the Crimson Tide. Miami freshmen Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney Jr. are going to be awesome in Coral Gables as they get more and more carries each week. Even Liberty sophomore Shedro Louis showed some speed and play-making ability. The future looks bright at the position.