The top running backs shouldn’t come as a big surprise to most people. There were many teams that were on a bye this past weekend, so some backs dropped drastically and some fell off the list completely. As you can see, there’s a bevy of talent in the ACC at the position and this list could change a great deal as the season progressed. Feel free to voice your opinion if you disagree with any of my selections in the comments section below.
1). Andre Williams – Senior, Boston College (LW: 2) - With two impressive games under his belt, Williams didn’t have the same success against USC (17 carries for a mere 38 yards). However, he is the leading rusher in the conference and gets the top nod with Miami running back Duke Johnson having a bye week.
2.) Duke Johnson – Sophomore, Miami (LW: 1) – Johnson drops a spot due to not playing this week. The Miami back is still one of the top performers in the ACC and he should continue to thrive.
3). Brandon Ross – Sophomore, Maryland (LW: 5) – Ross turned in another stellar performance after his thrashing of Old Dominion. The Delaware native totaled 95 yards on the ground and averaged 5.3 yards-per-carry, but didn’t find the end zone. That is mainly the product of the Maryland offense scoring on quick strikes when they were able to find paydirt. Ross is displaying remarkable vision and is finding holes all over the field. His play is definitely a big part of Maryland’s 3-0 start.
4.) Jela Duncan – Sophomore, Duke (LW: 10) – It’s certainly a surprise to see anybody jump this high in the rankings after being ranked low previously. Duncan had a very strong performance against Georgia Tech this past week, as he had 89 rushing yards and a touchdown against a very talented Georgia Tech team.
5.) Roderick McDowell – Senior, Clemson (LW: 4) – McDowell only has 175 rushing yards this season, but that’s only with two games in the bag. He only had eight carries against South Carolina State, but should see plenty of touches against N.C. State on Thursday night.
6.) Trey Edmunds – Freshman, Virginia Tech (LW: 3) – After playing Alabama, you would think that a running back wouldn’t have his best day against the Crimson Tide when he faces Western Carolina and East Carolina in the two weeks following such a contest. However, that has been the case for Edmunds. He only managed 42 yards on 21 carries against the Pirates this past week. He has to be better for the Hokies since quarterback Logan Thomas always seems to have his struggles.
7.) Jerome Smith – Junior, Syracuse (LW: 6) – Smith hasn’t been lighting the world on fire thus far. However, he’s been consistent and despite moderate yardage totals, he’s averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry for the Orange. The Delaware native does have five touchdowns, which is great for a Syracuse team that struggles that score against teams that aren’t Wagner.
8.) Devonta Freeman – Junior, Florida State (LW: NR) – The Seminoles have a great thunder and lightning combination in Freeman and James Wilder Jr. In two games, Freeman has tallied 161 yards and is averaging a staggering 8.9 yards-per-carry. While Pittsburgh and Nevada aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts, it’s still very impressive and gets him in my top ten.
9.) James Conner – Freshman, Pittsburgh (LW: NR) – Conner didn’t have a great start to the season against Florida State, but then again, not many running backs do. The Pennsylvania native thrashed New Mexico this past week to the tune of 119 yards (9.9 yards-per-carry) on 12 carries. He also found the end zone twice.
10.) Matt Dayes – Freshman, N.C. State (LW: 7) – Dayes is part of a talented trio of backs for the Wolfpack. The Florida back put a three-touchdown effort in week one and only has one game since then. As I noted earlier, N.C. State will face a tough test in Clemson on Thursday and will need Dayes to help produce a strong running game if the Wolfpack have any shot to win.