All-Decade: Ranking the top RBs from the 2010s
The decade is coming to an end and the years from 2010-2019 were loaded with talent. Here’s how we rank the top running backs of the decade based on how good they were out of high school.
1. Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris is the only running back in the decade to be named as the No. 1 prospect in the country and was simply a freak out of high school who drew comparisons to Adrian Peterson. He’s just starting to showcase that ability at Alabama and the NFL will love him. Just watch.
2. Leonard Fournette, LSU
Fournette was ranked No. 4 his recruiting year, but that was a loaded class so he gets the nod over Cam Akers and Trey Sanders, who were ranked one spot higher in their classes. Fournette was one of the biggest name running backs in ages and lived up to the hype in every way. He ran over you or past you and went on to become a first-round pick as expected.
3. Cam Akers, Florida State
Akers played quarterback in high school, but it was more of a wildcat position so we got to see his exceptional running back skills. He was in the discussion with Harris as the No. 1 player in the country, so he was pretty special. Things have been up and down at Florida State mainly because of a weak offensive line and poor passing game, but he’s an NFL talent for sure.
4. Trey Sanders, Alabama
Sanders was yet another big back with great speed and change of direction and his pass-catching skills were solid. Unfortunately he was injured before he got to see the field this year, which has allowed Harris to flourish but might have made him even more effective with an elite sub. Sanders, like most Alabama running backs, will wait his turn and then become special.
5. Johnathan Gray, Texas
Gray was an amazing talent out of high school, a kid who could cut on a dime and slash and dash his way away from defenders. He could also run with power and catch the ball well. His career at Texas was a disappointment, which was a big surprise to us, but many elite talents have been wasted as Longhorns recently.
6. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Mixon could have easily been a wide receiver if he wanted to as well, he was that versatile and had such good hands. He was a tall, upright runner with excellent feet and he could run with power. His career at Oklahoma was off to an amazing start before off-field issues landed him a one year suspension. He’s now a standout in the NFL, which isn’t a surprise based on his potential as a prospect in high school.
7. Damien Harris, Alabama
Harris was heavily scrutinized through the process because he played weak competition, but he cemented his five-star status at Under Armour week where his speed and evasiveness held up. The one-time Michigan commitment flipped to Alabama and had a solid career in Tuscaloosa before heading off to the NFL. He’s now with the New England Patriots and has four carries this season.
8. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lattimore was an amazing talent coming out of high school and could be the most well-balanced on this list because he was such a great pass-catcher. He was destined for stardom at South Carolina before a horribly gruesome leg injury pretty much ended things. He’s also one of the nicest recruits I’ve ever dealt with, never letting his fame go to his head.
9. Malcolm Brown, Texas
Brown was a massive running back out of Texas with quick feet and surprising quickness and a prospect who obviously ran with power. His career at Texas was average at best and he was a bit of a disappointment, but he’s still playing a key role in the NFL, so his talent has carried him far.
10. Derrick Green, Michigan
Green is the biggest bust on this list by far and it’s hard to figure. He was a big, physical running back with good speed and vision and Michigan looked like a perfect fit based on their offense. However, he never panned out at Michigan and he did nothing at TCU as a transfer either. We have looked much more carefully at bigger backs since Green, he puzzled us that much.