LSU running backs Coach Frank Wilson has long been considered one of the best recruiters in college football. Wilson and his Tigers offensive backfield have a chance to show some of that greatness this season.
That’s a strong statement, considering one of the SEC’s leading rushers from a season ago, Stevan Ridley, is no longer wearing Purple & Gold after moving on to the NFL. Ridley had an incredible season in 2010 racking up 1,147 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns, the seventh-best single season total in LSU football history.
But the cupboard is not bare in the Baton Rouge backfield! The LSU Tigers have a core of running backs as talented and deep as any team entering the 2011 college football season. And two of those six players have yet to play in a college football game!
Three sophomores and three freshmen make up that solid core of running backs for the Bayou Bengals. In my opinion, the headline name is Spencer Ware. Ware is an explosive yet powerful running back who can be dangerous between the tackles. He can run well outside, and he has proven he is a dangerous player when catching the ball out of the backfield. Ware carried the ball just 24 times in 2010, but he totaled 175 yards and averaged 7.3 yards per carry.
The other veteran players at the running back position are Michael Ford and Alfred Blue. Blue averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season, while Ford is LSU’s leading returning rusher with 244 yards for an average of 5.4 yards per carry last season.
Meanwhile, redshirt Freshman Jakhari Gore could be considered the dark horse of the group. Gore was redshirted last season, but had a very good Spring and was named one of the most improved players on the LSU team during spring drills.
The other two players who round out the Tigers offensive backfield--incoming freshmen Terrance Magee and Kenny Hillard. Hillard led his 3A Patterson Lumberjacks to the 3A Title Game in 2010. Magee helped his Franklinton Demons win the Class 4A Title. Both players come to LSU with impressive resumes and high expectations.
Hillard has been considered one of the best running backs in the country since he was a sophomore at Patterson. He rushed for over 1,800 yards last season, scoring scored touchdowns and averaging 6.5 yards per rush. The Lumberjack standout, who happens to be the nephew of former LSU/Saints star Dalton Hilliard, was able to enter school prior to spring practice and learn the LSU system despite injury.
Terrance Magee is my favorite to surprise this season. Magee had a lights-out season in 2010 for the Franklinton Demons, scoring scored 52 total touchdowns as a senior under Coach Shane Smith.
Magee is built like Spencer Ware. He can break tackles has breakaway speed. In piloting the Demons to their first-ever state championship, Magee rushed for over 1,300 yards from the quarterback position last season. He scored 19 touchdowns in that championship season, while averaging 8.5 yards per carry. In all, Magee amassed over 4,000 yards throwing and rushing the football.
So, Coach Frank Wilson will be looking hard this training camp to see which backs give the Tigers the best chance to win. Solid players in the lineup will certainly not be a problem. Best of all, the six running backs competing this fall all are very young, and will be with the LSU football program for quite some time!