Jack Follman’s Pac-12 Offensive Backfield Unit Rankings

Posted on June 8, 2021


  By Jack Follman, SportsPac12

The Pac-12 may lack star running backs and only have a couple of proven quarterbacks coming back in 2021, but the backfield group is deep.

The space between each of these groups is super small, and I actually like a lot about each group all the way down to Number 12.

Watch out for Pac-12 quarterbacks and running backs to put up huge numbers in 2021 as the next generation of backfield stars emerge.


1. Arizona State
Rachaad White | Sun Devil Athletics

Quarterback: Jayden Daniels
Running Backs: Rachaad White, Chip Trayanum, Daniyel Ngata

The Sun Devils have one of the two elite QBs in the conference, and two of the Pac-12’s best running backs, who could be even better in 2021.

Top-level talent, depth, and growth potential. They’re my clear choice for the top backfield in the Pac-12 and the only one that really has it all.


2. USC
Vavae Malapeai | AP Photo

Quarterback: Kedon Slovis
Running Backs: Keontay Ingram, Vavae Malepeai, Kenan Christon

The other elite top QB in the Conference boosts USC up here, even though their running back group isn’t one of the Pac-12’s best.

The running back group isn’t empty though.

Texas transfer Ingram could quickly become one of the Conference’s best, Malepeai is a proven commodity, and they have young talent in the fold.


3. Oregon
Anthony Brown | Sports Illustrated

Quarterbacks: Anthony Brown, Ty Thompson
Running Backs: CJ Verdell, Travis Dye, Sean Dollars

The Ducks have the best running back group in the Conference with proven veterans in Verdell and Dye, who can do a lot of things, and a young player with potential in Dollars.

They’re third because quarterback is a question mark, but Brown seems like he should be average at worst, so that keeps them in the top three.


4. Colorado
Alex Fontenot | Tim Benko/Colorado Athletics

Quarterbacks: Brendon Lewis, J.T. Shrout
Running Backs: Jarek Broussard, Alex Fontenot, Ashaad Clayton, Joe Davis

With Sam Noyer off to the transfer portal, Lewis and Shrout will battle for the starting job.

Their skillsets give them an opportunity to outshine Noyer’s solid last season, if one of them develops quickly enough.

Broussard also had a big 2020 and is a First-Team All-Pac-12 talent coming into 2021.

Fontenot is a high-quality backup, with Clayton and Davis looking to get in the mix.

5. Washington State
Jayden de Laura | Young Kwak/AP

Quarterbacks: Jayden de Laura, Jarrett Guarantano
Running Back: Max Borghi, Deon McIntosh, Jouvensky Bazil

This group is headlined by the Conference’s best skill position player in Borghi, but is also solid at QB.

de Laura showed star potential as a freshman to me, and if Tennessee transfer Guarantano wins the job, he’s average at worst.

McIntosh was really good when filling in for Borghi in 2020.


6. UCLA
Brittain Brown | Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News

Quarterbacks: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Chase Griffin
Running Backs: Zach Charbonnet, Brittain Brown, Martell Irby, Kazmeir Allen

The Bruins have a sneaky good backfield.

DTR had his best season yet in 2020, Griffin was good if he has to step in, and Michigan transfer Charbonnet could end up being the running back in the conference.

Getting Brown back for an extra senior season was also a huge score.


7. Washington
Sean McGrew | Mike Siegel/Seattle Times

Quarterbacks: Dylan Morris, Sam Huard
Running Backs: Sean McGrew, Kamari Pleasant, Richard Newton

Morris had a quietly pretty good year in four games for the Huskies in 2020, but there’s still a slight chance blue chip freshman Huard steals the job in Fall camp.

Either way, they’re solid at QB.

They have a deep stable of running backs who are also solid, but haven’t proven to be remarkable yet.


8. Utah
Charlie Brewer | Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News

Quarterback: Charlie Brewer
Running Backs: Micah Bernard, TJ Pledger, Chris Curry

Well-proven Baylor transfer Brewer looks to be the starter and has shown more than anyone other than Slovis and Daniels coming back in the Conference.

Bernard is edging out highly-touted Oklahoma transfer Pledger at running back, and that just means the Utes should have some really talented depth at the position.


9. Stanford
Tanner McKee | Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images via OC Register

Quarterbacks: Tanner McKee, Jack West
Running Backs: Austin Jones, Nathaniel Peat, Dorian Maddox

I like this group a lot for its ranking.

The big question mark is at quarterback, but West has been solid in relief the past couple of years, so if McKee beats him out that means he’s good.

Jones seems like an 1,000-yard back and Peat and Maddox are some of the best bench running backs in the Pac-12.

10. Cal
Christopher Brown | Cal Athletics

Quarterback: Chase Garbers
Running Backs: Christopher Brown, Marcel Dancy, Damien Moore

The Bears need Garbers to step up from being a great gamer to being a weapon at quarterback, and he didn’t do that in 2020 the way I thought he would.

Their running group is big, powerful and solid, though not super electric.

11. Oregon State
Tristan Gebbia | Andy Cripe/Mid-Valley Media

Quarterback: Tristan Gebbia
Running Backs: BJ Baylor, Deshaun Fenwick, Trey Lowe

Gebbia has been okay for a while now, and it just doesn’t feel like he’s going to break out.

Baylor was good as a second option behind Jermar Jefferson, and now will have to be the man, running behind a strong offensive line.


12. Arizona
Michael Wiley | Mike Christy/Arizona Athletics

Quarterbacks: Jordan McCloud, Gunner Cruz
Running Backs: Michael Wiley, Jalen John, Bam Smith

Not too much going on here.

The Wildcats are rebuilding and there’s some talent to work with; it will just have to starting proving itself in 2021.




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