Tennessee kicks off the 2019 season with a match-up against Georgia State on August 31st in Knoxville. With kickoff just days away, Rocky Top Insider is taking a look at the best players the Vols will face at each position.
Next up is our look at the 10 best running backs the Vols will take on this upcoming season. The group of running backs Tennessee will face this season is deep and talented, as is the case most years.
Take a look back at the top 10 quarterbacks the Vols will face on their 2019 schedule.
Now, here’s a look at the top 10 running backs Tennessee will face in year two under Jeremy Pruitt.
No. 1 — D’Andre Swift, Georgia (Oct. 5)
Despite being slowed by a groin injury early last season, Swift led the Bulldogs with 1,049 rushing yards to go along with a team-high 10 rushing touchdowns on 163 carries. Swift averaged 6.4 yards per rush and turned in a sophomore season that only Herschel Walker, Sony Michel, and Knowshon Moreno have topped. Behind what is thought to be the best offensive line in the SEC, Swift is poised for a big season.
No. 2 — Najee Harris, Alabama (Oct. 19)
Harris didn’t rush for 1,000-yards last season, but that was because Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris were ahead of him on the depth chart. No Alabama running back carried the ball more than 20 times in a game last season, but Najee Harris still managed to rush for 783 yards. At a team-high 6.7 yards per carry, he rushed for four touchdowns on 117 carries. Now that it is his room, Harris will prove his worth as one of the best running backs in the conference and the country.
No. 3 — Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt (Nov. 30)
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is the most underrated running back in the country, and it’s because of the school he plays at. Last season, Vaughn averaged 7.9 yards per carry as he rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns on 157 carries. Vaughn’s production could be down this season with Vanderbilt’s offensive line rebuilding, but it won’t be due to a lack of talent on Vaughn’s part.
No. 4 — Larry Roundtree III, Missouri (Nov. 23)
Roundtree is a workhorse in Missouri’s backfield. The junior rushed for 1,216 yards last year, which ranked fourth-best in the SEC. Roundtree added 11 touchdowns on hi 225 carries. His 1,919 rushing yards through his first two seasons is the most ever by a Mizzou running back through two years of play. Paired with quarterback Kelly Bryant, Missouri has one of the better backfields in the conference.
No. 5 — Spencer Brown, UAB (Nov. 2)
Brown is the definition of production. Last season, UAB’s best weapon on offense rushed for 1,227 yards and a school record 16 touchdowns. He had six 100-yard rushing games and rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown to lead UAB to a 27-25 victory over Middle Tennessee in the C-USA Championship Game. As a result of his performance, he was named the Conference USA Championship Game MVP and First Team All-Conference USA running back.
Heading into 2019, Brown has been named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, which is awarded to the player of the year, as well as the Doak Walker Award Watch List, which goes to the nation’s premier running back.
No. 6 —Lamical Perine, Florida (Sept. 21)
Perine led Florida with 134 carries, 826 rushing yards, and seven touchdowns in 2018. He also caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. Perine had more total yards (996) than any other Gator player and was second on the team in scoring (48). With only one starter returning up front, Florida is rebuilding its offensive line, but Perine is capable of rushing for 1,000 yards.
No. 7 — Kylin Hill, Mississippi State (Oct. 12)
Kylin Hill started all 11 games he played in last season, but a lower-body injury during the back half of the season sidelined him against Texas A&M and Arkansas. Hill is a shifty, speedy running back who rushed for 734 yards and four touchdowns on 117 attempts last season. On 195 career carries, Hill has yet to fumble.
No. 8 — Tavien Feaster, South Carolina (Oct. 26)
The Clemson transfer is one of the most talented running backs in the SEC, and the only reason he is no longer a Tiger is because Travis Etienne is viewed as the best back in the entire country. While at Clemson, Feaster rushed for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry.
No. 9 — A.J. Rose, Kentucky (Nov.9)
Last season, Rose played in all 13 games. He rushed for 479 yards on 86 carries to go along with five touchdowns. Rose finished third on the team in rushing behind Benny Snell Jr. and Terry Wilson, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He has big shoes to fill as he replaces Snell in the backfield, but he’s talented enough to do so.
No. 10 — Rico Dowdle, South Carolina (Oct. 26)
Dowdle and Feaster should be one of the better running back duos in the SEC. South Carolina hasn’t finished higher than 12th in the league in rushing the football under Will Muschamp, but this year’s group is deep and talented with Dowdle and Feaster leading the charge. Last year, South Carolina was 92nd in the country in rushing, averaging 152.8 yards per game. Dowdle rushed for 654 yards and four touchdowns last season on 123 carries.