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August 16, 2011
Preseason top 20: Running backs
LaMichael James led the nation with 1,731 rushing yards last season and carried Oregon to its best season in school history - a wild ride that took the Ducks all the way to the BCS championship game. Marcus Lattimore took the SEC by storm as a true freshman and led the Gamecocks to their first East Division championship.
James and Lattimore are back this season, but who ranks alongside them as the nation's top running backs? We begin our breakdown of the nation's best players at each position with a look at running backs. "Best" doesn't necessarily mean the most pro potential or even the most talent. Instead, it's a mix of what the player has accomplished and how we think the player will do this season. But production does trump potential.
We will look at a position a day until Aug. 29, when we rank all 120 of the nation's quarterbacks. Wednesday, we will look at wide receivers. Here are the running back rankings.
20. STEPFAN TAYLOR, STANFORD
19. DAVID WILSON, VIRGINIA TECH
18. MARCUS COKER, IOWA
17. LANCE DUNBAR, NORTH TEXAS
16. BOBBY RAINEY, WESTERN KENTUCKY
15. JAMES WHITE, WISCONSIN
14. RODNEY STEWART, COLORADO
13. MICHAEL DYER, AUBURN
12. MONTEE BALL, WISCONSIN
11. DAN HERRON, OHIO STATE
10. CHRIS POLK, WASHINGTON
9. RONNIE HILLMAN, SAN DIEGO STATE
8. EDWIN BAKER, MICHIGAN STATE
7. TAUREN POOLE, TENNESSEE
6. DOUG MARTIN, BOISE STATE
5. TRENT RICHARDSON, ALABAMA
4. CYRUS GRAY, TEXAS A&M
3. MARCUS LATTIMORE, SOUTH CAROLINA
2. MONTEL HARRIS, BOSTON COLLEGE
1. LaMICHAEL JAMES, OREGON
Rankings and player capsules compiled by Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.