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Friday, January 25, 2013
B1G lags behind SEC in attracting RBs

By Bob McClellan

Since the ESPN recruiting rankings began in 2006, the SEC has signed 25 running backs ranked in the top 10 (not including backs who signed with Texas A&M before it joined the conference). The Big Ten has signed five.

The SEC stands to add to its total on national signing day this year. Three RBs are committed to SEC schools, including two to Alabama. Should both indeed sign with the Tide, Alabama will have signed five top-10 backs in the past five years.

Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson was the nation's top-rated RB prospect in 2009.
The Big Ten stands at zero for the upcoming class. That is, unless Michigan can close the deal with Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Heritage), the nation’s No. 5 RB and No. 38 overall prospect. His final three is composed of the Wolverines and -- who else? -- two SEC schools, Auburn and Tennessee.

Green would become the top-rated player in the Wolverines’ class and bring a much-needed boost to a running game that struggled last season. Quarterback Denard Robinson led U-M in rushing; no running back gained more than 550 yards.

The five top-10 backs who signed to play in the Big Ten between 2006 and 2012 haven’t exactly set college football on its ear. Aaron Green (Nebraska in 2011) and Jaamal Berry (Ohio State in 2009) have transferred out of the league. Rod Smith (OSU in 2010) has rushed for just 331 yards in two seasons.

Chris “Beanie” Wells is the most successful of the backs who ventured into the Big Ten. The former Buckeye rushed for 3,382 yards and 30 touchdowns from 2006 to 2008.

The only other top-10 back to play in the Big Ten was Michigan’s Carlos Brown, who signed in 2006. He rushed for 1,025 yards in his four seasons, with a high of 480 in 2009, his final season.

Coincidentally, 2006 was the only year in which the Big Ten signed more ESPN top-10 RBs (two) than the SEC, which had none. In every year since, the SEC has signed at least three backs who ranked in the top 10. Georgia leads the way with six -- one in each of the past six years.

The Big Ten came up empty on top-10 backs in 2007, 2008 and 2012.