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SEC Backfield Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Southern Pigskin's top five SEC backfields for 2018.

1. Alabama: Though Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide may have a quarterback controversy with accomplished veteran Jalen Hurts and championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa, it's a great problem to have, competition at football's most important position. Fresh off one of the most iconic throws in college football history, Tagovailoa may be the favorite in the eyes of some; Hurts, however, has a career record of 26-2 as starter. Both, clearly, have a number of impressive attributes and abilities. Remarkably, running back Damien Harris, who has a career average of over 6.7 yards per attempt, may soon become Alabama's first three-time 1,000-yard rusher and could, with a banner season, become the program's all-time leading rusher. He, Najee Harris, who had 64 yards in the title game, and Josh Jacobs form a true three-headed monster atop the depth chart.

2. Georgia: As a true freshman, Jake Fromm helped take the Bulldogs to an SEC Championship and the College Football Playoff Final, all while ranking in the national top ten in passer rating. Fromm, confident and easy, plays with a poise beyond his years. Athletic dynamo DeAndre Swift looks ready to take over as Georgia's feature back. He, teammate Sony Michel and Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love were the only power five backs with more than 80 attempts to average at least 7.5 yards per carry a season ago. Depth including Elijah Holyfield, Brian Herrien and multiple talented newcomers will help carry the load. Speaking of true freshmen, expect quarterback phenom Justin Fields to find his ways onto the field at some point. 

3. Missouri: What Drew Lock did last season had literally never been done before in the history of the SEC. He led all of college football and set a new league record with 44 passing touchdowns, also topping the 440-yard mark in three different games. Lock turned down the NFL Draft for a final run with the Tigers and is sure to move way up the all-time conference passing lists. Missouri is stacked at running back with Damarea Crockett, 1,062 yards and ten scores in 2016, and Larry Rountree, 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017. Crockett has a  6.6-yard per carry average for his career.

4. Mississippi State: Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is poised to return from injury as a Heisman Trophy candidate; in his last 14 full games, Fitzgerald has scored 42 total touchdowns. He and Lamar Jackson are the only two power five signal callers with a minimum total of 4,200 passing yards and 2,300 rushing yards over the past two years. In Fitzgerald's absence late last fall, freshman Keytaon Thompson played well in pacing the Bulldogs to a TaxSlayer Bowl win. Aeris Williams is one of just three returning 1,000-yard rushers from last season in the SEC. Against top-ranked Alabama this past year, he rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns. There is great energy around the potential production of the group in new head coach Joe Moorhead's offense. 

5. Auburn: Jarrett Stidham gives the Tigers a "big game" field general. He played five games against top six teams last season, performing especially well against the likes of Alabama and Georgia in November. Stidham has a strong arm and his 66.5% completion percentage was the highest in the SEC over the past two years. There is also excitement around incoming freshman Joey Gatewood. Now an upperclassman, running back Kam Martin appears poised for a breakout season. He has averaged over 6.5 yards per carry to date. Veteran H-back Chandler Cox is a powerful blocker.