Back Ralph Webb’s Greatness

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Ralph Webb’s Greatness

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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In terms of his resume and his role, Ralph Webb will very likely finish as career as an all-time conference great.

Ralph Webb is poised to finish his career as one of the most productive running backs in SEC history. Prior to the start of his senior year, the Gainesville, Florida-native already ranks in the top 20 in the league all-time in career rushing with 3,342 yards. Webb has been a model of consistency, with seasons of 907, 1,152 and 1,283 yards to date. Last fall, he set new highs with 5.13 yards per carry and 13 rushing touchdowns. 

After redshirting in 2013, Webb's impact was immediate. He rushed for 95 yards in his second-ever game, nearly reaching the century mark against nationally-ranked Ole Miss. The very next week, he ran for 116 yards and his first career score. Webb later broke Rodney Williams' single game total for a freshman with 166 yards in a win over Old Dominion, ultimately setting a new season record previously held by the late Kwane Doster.

Year two, for Webb, featured even more of the same. He carried the football a program-high 277 times, then compiling the second-most rushing yards ever by a Commodore. Webb was often at his best against Vanderbilt's top opponents; he ran 99 yards against eighth-ranked Houston, 118 yards at nationally-ranked Florida, which finished with a top 25 rush defense, and 149 more at nationally-ranked Tennessee. In all but one of the Commodores' conference games, Webb, steady and strong, ran at least 21 times.  

Webb's paint-by-number progression continued into last fall, with the running back ushering in a golden era of production in Nashville. Overtaking Zac Stacy, Webb established new single-season and career rushing records at Vanderbilt, reaching nearly 1,300 yards in the Commodores' 13 games. He, among other performances, topped 200 yards in a victory over Middle Tennessee, reached the 100-yard mark four times in league play and ran for 111 yards in the Independence Bowl against NC State. In the SEC East, Webb was the division's leading rusher by more than 110 yards. 

Impressively, Webb is less than 500 yards away from moving inside the top ten of the SEC's all-time rushing list, with a number of the league's legendary figures within reach. Along with Georgia's Nick Chubb, Webb is one of the conference's two active rushers with a very real chance to shake up the top of of the charts. Names like Bo Jackson, Leonard Fournette and Emmitt Smith, among others, may soon have to make room.  

If Webb were to match his rushing total from a year ago, as things currently stand, he would leave Vanderbilt as the second-leading rusher in SEC history, trailing only the iconic Herschel Walker in yards compiled.

Like a clock on the wall, Webb has started 37 consecutive contests as he enters his senior season; perhaps college football's most consistent competitor, Webb is the modern day prototype for the throwback feature-back. He took over as the starter and offensive focal point in first game and has reached double figures in carries in every game since. Webb, who already slots in the top ten in league history in career rushing attempts, needs 256 more to move past Walker for the most, ever, in the SEC; Webb has 527 attempts the past two years. 

In terms of his resume and his role, Webb will very likely finish as career as an all-time conference great. Looking ahead, his work isn't done, either. Webb has already secured his place in the history books; even still, head down and legs churning, he is in an all-out sprint.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports