2019 Preseason All-American Projections: Running Backs

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2019 college football season Walter Football will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2020 NFL Draft.

First-Team Running Back: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Rverybody expected a massive 2017 from Buckeyes running back Mike Weber, but it was freshman J.K. Dobbins who had a huge season to lead the Ohio State offense. That season, Dobbins averaged 7.2 yards per carry for 1,403 yards with seven touchdowns. He showed some real speed to go along with nice size.

In 2018, Dobbins averaged 4.6 yards per carry for 1,053 yards with 10 touchdowns. While being the starter, Dobbins split the carries with Weber and others to keep the backs fresh and healthy. Dobbins also recorded 26 receptions for 263 yards as a sophomore. Dobbins should dominate as a junior as long as he stays healthy. The Buckeyes decided not to play any challenging non-conference opponents for 2019, and there are plenty of Big Ten teams on their season slate that won’t be able to stop Dobbins even when they know what’s coming. Unless he gets injured or benched, Dobbins should be prolific this fall.

Dobbins should have a massive 2019 season as Ohio State has returns offensive line talent to help open holes for him and Weber is now in the NFL, so Dobbins won’t have him to split carries. Additionally, Dwayne Haskins moved on to the NFL along with some top receiving talent like Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, so the Buckeyes will need to lean more on Dobbins and the ground game as they break in a new starting quarterback. Thus, I could see Dobbins having a massive year and being a First-Team All-American.

Second-Team Running Back: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

A prolific Wisconsin running back is tradition of college football, and Taylor has been that kind of producer since suiting up for the Badgers. The 5-foot-11, 216-pounder has run over the Big Ten in his first two seasons in Madison. As a sophomore, Taylor averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 2,194 yards with 16 touchdowns. He had eight receptions for 60 yards as well. Taylor broke out in 2017, averaging 6.6 yards per carry for 1,977 yards with 13 touchdowns.

The Badgers return some offensive line talent, although their line may not be as good as it has been in recent years, but they still should have no issues running the ball with their front leading the way for Taylor. He has the talent to role over a lot of easy opponents on the Badgers’ slate and could produce a huge 2019 season to get a lot of honors, like being an All-American.

Third-Team Running Back: D’Andre Swife, Georgia

It can be hard to get carries at Georgia with its stable of future NFL backs, but Swift was so talented, he forced his way onto the field. He flashed as a freshman in 2017 even though Sony Michel and Nick Chubb saw the majority of attempts. On the year, Swift averaged 7.6 yards per carry for 618 yards and three touchdowns. As a sophomore, Swift took over as a starter and had 1,049 yards with an average of 6.4 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns on only 163 carries. In 2018, it was Elijah Holyfield who split the touches with Swift. As a sophomore, Swift also contributed well as a receiver with 32 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns.

Swift has a good build to him with a surprising burst to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. He has a lot of upside and should enter the NFL without much wear-and-tear from the Georgia backfield platoon. Swift could be one of the top running backs in college football, but the platoon situation at Georgia could reduce his production and keep him from being a First- or Second-Team All-American.

Honorable Mentions: Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill, Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin, Alabama’s Najee Harris, Florida State’s Cam Akers, Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, Missouri’s Larry Roundtree, Louisiana’s Trey Ragas and Florida’s Lamical Perine.

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