Posted on May 25, 2021
The abridged 2020 season was odd for Pac-12 running backs. Some unknowns coming in had some of the biggest seasons, one of the best running backs didn’t even play, and some proven commodities didn’t do much.
A deep bunch that lacks star power returns in 2021. There’s a lot to like and a nice mix of veterans and up-and-comers. I think we will see a lot of 1,000-yard rushers at the end of the season.
1. Max Borghi, Senior, Washington State
The electric all-purpose back from Pullman missed all of 2020 due to injury and that could be a good thing. It will be exciting to see what he looks like in Nick Rolovich’s Run ‘n Shoot.
I think he should clearly be the Conference’s top running back in 2021.
2. Jarek Broussard, Sophomore, Colorado
Broussard was one of the breakout stars of 2020, especially out of the gate, and he put up by far the best numbers of the returning running backs.
He slowed late against better competition, and he’ll have to show he’s truly a First-Team All-Pac-12 player when the season starts.
He’s earned the right to start here for now though.
3. Travis Dye, Senior, Oregon
Dye wasn’t the best player in the Conference, but he sure seemed like the most-valuable at times, almost always seeming to make the big play when Oregon really needed it in tight games.
His all-purpose game, experience, and big play potential makes him maybe the best overall offensive weapon.
4. Rachaad White, Junior, Arizona State
White feels like that ultra-talented player who could end up competing with Borghi for the top spot once the season actually starts.
The JC transfer averaged a blistering 10 yards per-carry in 2020 and was also a great receiving threat.
5. Austin Jones, Junior, Stanford
Jones quietly ran for a lot of yards and scored nine touchdowns in 2020.
He’s a bit like the heyday Stanford running backs as a bigger, not blazing fast back who can follow blocks and get the most out of each carry.
He should go over 1,000 yards in 2021.
6. CJ Verdell, Senior, Oregon
Verdell was one of the most-consistent backs in the Conference in his first two seasons, topping more than 1,000 yards each year.
He didn’t have a good 2020 after a fast start. I think it likely it just had to do with the weirdness of 2020 and he will be back to previous form in 2021.
7. Brittain Brown, Senior, UCLA
The Bruins scored big when the Duke transfer decided to take his extra year and come back.
He averaged 6.6 yards per-carry as a key part of UCLA’s quiet and surprising offensive explosion in 2020.
He’s big, speedy and should put up a lot of yards as a featured back.
8. Keontay Ingram, Junior, USC
The big 6-foot, 220-pound Texas transfer looks to be USC’s feature back going forward, and he’s already proven a bit in the Big 12, rushing for nearly 2,000 yards and scoring more than 15 touchdowns in three seasons as a Longhorn.
He is also a really good receiving threat.
9. DeaMonte Trayanum, Freshman, Arizona State
Like White, Trayanum averaged a lot of yards per-carry as a true freshman, averaging 5.9 per-carry.
He’s 5-11, 230, and fast and another guy who I think could rocket up these rankings if he progresses and gets enough carries.
10. Deon McIntosh, Senior, Washington State
He came out the gate hot in 2020, looking like Max Borghi in Rolovich’s offense.
He cooled off as the season went on but he averaged 6.2 yards per-carry at the end of the season and should be a very nice option to have next to Borghi in the Cougar backfield.
11. TJ Pledger, Junior, Utah
This is a good time to note that Ty Jordan might have been my Number One back in the conference had he not tragically passed.
Oklahoma transfer and former blue chip recruit, Pledger, looks like he could be the next really good Ute running back.
He was good last year for Oklahoma, rushing for more than 400 yards and scoring five touchdowns.
12. Sean McGrew, Senior, Washington
The tiny 5-foot-7, 175-pound McGrew has been productive in his four years at Washington, but struggles to stay healthy.
He’s averaged 6.2 and 5.3 yards per-carry in the past two seasons and he could put up big numbers and plays if he can stay healthy and be a true featured back in 2021.
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