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The top 5 running backs Georgia will face this season

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at what one of the best players in the NFL is saying about Isaiah McKenzie’s future in Denver and rank the five best running backs Georgia will face in 2017.

Top 5 RBs to have Georgia defense’s attention in 2017

We’ve already ranked all the starting quarterbacks Georgia will face in 2017, and now we move on to out next positional rankings: running backs. Here are the five best tailbacks the Bulldogs will have to stop this season:

5. Josh Adams, Notre Dame — One of the bright spots of Notre Dame’s poor 2016 campaign was Adams. Through two seasons with the Irish, he’s averaged 6.5 yards per carry. He rushed for 933 yards and 5 touchdowns as a sophomore, including a career-high 180 yards against USC in the last game of the season. He has the ability to make one cut, then hit the open field for a score, so UGA defenders will need to wrap him up and take him down on the first hit.

4. Damarea Crockett, MissouriMissouri’s offense made big strides in the first season under offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, going from 124th to 13th in total offense in the span of a year. A lot of that offense was provided by rising sophomore Crockett, who rushed for 1,062 yards and 10 TDs. He moved the ball in chunks with 6.9 yards per carry last season. Crockett’s a bit boom or bust, though. He ran for more than 115 yards in five of his games — including 225 against Tennessee — and less than 70 in five other games.

3. Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky — Kentucky’s late-season success in 2016 was built on the back of its running game, specifically the tandem of Stanley “Boom” Williams and Snell. Snell totaled 1,091 yards and 13 TDs without playing in the first two games of the season. He ended the year with a bang, too, rushing for 100-plus yards in four of the final six regular-season contests. With Williams’ decision to go pro, Snell will receive the bulk of the carries in 2017, and he should see a significant rise in production to go along with it.

2. Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt — Webb isn’t an explosive playmaker. He’s a grinder. In three seasons as a starter for the ‘Dores, he’s racked up 3,342 yards rushing and 22 TDs, with 1,283 of those yards and 13 of the TDs coming in 2016. He’s already the leading rusher in Vanderbilt history, and chances are good he’ll become the eighth rusher in SEC history to run for more than 4,000 yards in his career. Ninth if you include the high likelihood of Nick Chubb hitting 4,000 yards this season, too.

1. Kamryn Pettway, Auburn — One of the biggest lucky breaks Georgia caught last season was the fact that Pettway was sidelined for the Bulldogs’ upset of the Tigers. Pettway missed four games in total last season but still managed to rush for 1,224 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 7 TDs. He has that fast-twitch quickness you expect from the best running backs in college football — a group that undoubtedly includes Pettway — but his biggest asset is his power. When he gets room, he’s one of the most difficult runners in college football to bring down.

More praise for Isaiah McKenzie

Reports coming out of Denver this month told of good things regarding former Dawg/current Broncos rookie Isaiah McKenzie. But it seems the playmaker has now done more than just catch the eye of reporters. He’s also caught the eye of his teammates, including one of the best players in the NFL.

In a recent interview with KMGH-TV in Denver, Von Miller heaped praise on McKenzie as a player, along with some other rookies, who can “help [the Broncos] win games.”

“Isaiah is going to be able to make a lot of great plays. It’s what we’ve been missing, a big-time return man,” Miller said. “He’s dynamic. The rookies really fit into the weaknesses we had before.”

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