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2024 CFF Running Back Rankings, Profiles and Projections II

In the first part of the series, I profiled the Top 12 CFF running backs in the top two tiers—Summa and Magna. The Cum Laude tier of CFF runners (13-24) are spotlighted below…Enjoy my CFF colleagues.

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CFF Running Back Rankings and Profiles

Cum Laude

LeQuint Allen, Syracuse

Team Offense (Rank): 343 ypg. (97)

Rushing: 172 ypg. (47)

Scoring: 23.5 ppg. (90)

2024 FPPG: 17.3

Fantrax ADP: 39.5

Many college football fans could name Syracuse running backs Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Ernie Davis, and Larry Csonka. Yet, hardly any would identify Joe Morris as the all-time leader in rushing yards with 4,299 at Syracuse. Never guessing Morris at the top of the list, I think back to the former New York Giants’ ball carrier helping the team win Super Bowl XXI.

Over the past four campaigns, the Orange ground game has regained some of its past glory with Sean Tucker (2020-2022) and LeQuint Allen last year. Allen burst on the national scene in the Pinstripe Bowl two years ago: He gained 94 yards on 15 carries and caught a whopping 11 passes for 60 yards. In his first season as the starter, he earned second-team All-ACC running back and honorable mention All-ACC all-purpose player. He concluded the campaign with the twelfth-most rushing yards (1,064) and sixth-most carries in a single season (245) for the Orange. He paced the team with 38 receptions for 210 yards and a score.

Syracuse acquired four O-line transfers to strengthen its three returning starters up front and upgraded the quarterback position significantly by bringing in Ohio State transfer Kyle McCord. Also, the offense will benefit with the return of TE Oronde Gadsden, II, who missed the majority of last season. Allen ranks among the best backs in the ACC and the nation. If the Orange offense takes a step forward, the junior ball carrier is a very good selection with an enticing fantasy ceiling.

Scouting Notebook: “Being more vocal, you know, and leading by example and stuff like that on and off the field. I’m [the] older guy now. I have to show the younger guys what it is and what it isn’t. And just bringing all the guys together, you know, and just helping us connect to get that championship,” Allen revealed in the offseason (spectrumlocalnews.com).

RJ Harvey, UCF

Team Offense (Rank):487 ypg. (8)

Rushing: 228 ypg. (4)

Scoring: 31.3 ppg. (41)

2024 FPPG: 22.5

Fantrax ADP: 23.2

The CFF community rejoiced when RJ Harvey returned to campus for another season in 2024. The redshirt senior was named a Doak Walker Semifinalist and Second Team All-Big 12 (Phil Steele) last year. Harvey scampered for 1,416 yards and 16 touchdowns. He recorded 42 double-digit runs and tallied six career multi-touchdown games.

A three-star recruit, Harvey originally enrolled at West Virginia and took a redshirt season as a freshman in 2019. He transferred to UCF the next season and saw very limited action. In 2021, he endured a season-ending injury in the preseason. In 2022, Harvey garnered significant carries for the first time in his tenure and rambled for 796 yards and five scores, earning Third Team All-AAC (Phil Steele).

Over the offseason, the Knights dipped into the transfer portal and pulled QB KJ Jefferson (Arkansas) and RB Peny Boone (Louisville) out. With the backfield additions, Harvey has fallen in recent CFF drafts. Nonetheless, he is the top running back on the roster and a valuable second ball carrier on a CFF roster.

Scouting Notebook: “I felt like I left some things on the field. There is more I can show and prove to the NFL. We went 6-7. That was in my mind too. I don’t want to go out like that. I want to win. To me and the older guys, that was embarrassing. I felt we had a better team than that. I’m going to step up more as a leader vocally and show by my actions to take that next step,” Harvey proclaimed last December (uff.rivals.com).

Jalen White, Georgia Southern

Team Offense (Rank): 420 ypg. (37)

Rushing: 117 ypg. (106)

Scoring: 30.2 ppg. (48)

2024 FPPG: 15.7

Fantrax ADP: 46.8

The Georgia Southern program is not a national name; even so, the offense does provide some CFF goodness under coach Clay Helton. In the passing game during the last two years, quarterbacks Kyle Vantrease and Davis Brin and receivers Khaleb Hood and Derwin Burgess, Jr. all produced solid fantasy numbers. When Helton dialed up a run play, Jalen White’s number was called.

Over the past two seasons, White scampered for 1,803 yards, corralled 39 passes for 286 yards, and scored 21 times. He averaged 5.6 ypc. and was named to numerous All-Sun Belt teams. Sadly, White has missed four games or he likely would have surpassed 1,000 yards in each season.

After leading the nation in rushing yards as a high school senior, White was selected First Team All-USA by USA Today. In 11 games, he gained a whopping 3,517 yards and set an Alabama single-season state record. A two-way player, he also racked up 65 tackles, including 10 for loss, three interceptions, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles (one for a touchdown) and had five passes broken up. He finished third in the voting for Mr. Football in Alabama. A talented football player, the fifth-year back looks poised to finally surpass the 1,000-yard barrier for CFF fanatics.

Scouting Notebook: “As Georgia Southern’s featured back, (White) carries solid height and weight with average top-end speed. He possesses great vision and good change of direction, allowing him to quickly identify and switch running lanes. He displays above-average toughness and doesn’t shy away from contact. White boasts high-end body control and sufficient contact balance to bounce off of weaker tackles,” wrote Matt Holder in White’s draft profile (silverandblackpride.com).

Makhi Hughes, Tulane

Team Offense (Rank): 370 ypg. (74)

Rushing: 155 ypg. (68)

Scoring: 26.4 ppg. (69)

2024 FPPG: 14.1

Fantrax ADP: 31.3

I really wanted to rank Makhi Hughes even higher. Be that as it may, there are so many changes at Tulane that it seemed prudent to drop him a little in the rankings. Former coach Willie Fritz led the Green Wave to 23 wins in the past 27 games but left for Houston in the offseason. QB Matt Pratt, a four-year starter, now applies his trade in the NFL for the Packers. How will the Tulane’ offense perform under new coach Jon Sumrall? Who will call signals for the Green Wave?

While the answers will be determined over the course of the season, Sumrall will surely rely on Hughes to run the football. The redshirt sophomore rambled for 1,378 yards and seven touchdowns, adding 11 catches for 67 yards. He was named AAC Rookie of the Year and First Team All-AAC for his outstanding performance. At 5’11’ and 205-pounds, Hughes is a solid runner with good vision. But can he and his teammates adapt to the transformations in the program? CFF managers must answer the above questions before drafting Hughes.

Scouting Notebook: “Hughes just runs hard. He runs behind his pads. He’s just a really good football player. Smart, hard worker. That’s a lot of yards. That helps us offensively. That helps us defensively being able to run the ball,” former Tulane coach Willie Fritz stated last fall after the freshman runner scampered for 153 yards (apnews.com).


Twitterverse on Fire!

Based on current CFF ADP on Fantrax, Who Ya Got as the top target in drafts?

  • Jamal Haynes, Georgia Tech: 17%
  • Kaden Feagin, Illinois: 33%
  • Cameron Cook, TCU: 38%
  • Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin: 12%

Scholar’s Selection: Looking at my current rosters, Kaden Feagin is infused on many of my CFF teams already. At times, CFF owners overlook touchdown equity, and coach Bret Bielema’s ground game historically highlights a runner in the red zone: P.J. Hill with 31 TDs (2006-07), John Clay with 32 TDs (2009-10), Montee Ball with 61 TDs (2011-12), Alex Collins with 32 TDs (2014-15) and Chase Brown with 18 TDs (2021-22). I will always bank on systems, and sophomore Feagin, 6’3” and 250 pounds, looks like the next battering ram for the Illini.

“Cameron Cook for me! I love the buzz he is getting, and I could see him really getting a ton of looks this season.” @aceholesrule

“If Kaden Feagin stays healthy, I think he has a big year for the Illini. A small-school runner who has grown up and gotten stronger. Excited to see him in the Illini’s run-first offense, which should be improved overall.” @jtorange

“Cameron Cook will get over 1k rushing yards easily this season. You can take that to the bank!” @ProbascoLuke


Gavin Sawchuk, Oklahoma

Team Offense (Rank): 507 ypg. (3)

Rushing: 182 ypg. (7)

Scoring: 41.7 ppg. (4)

2024 FPPG: 12.6

Fantrax ADP: 37.1

If a reader followed college football like me in the late Seventies, Oklahoma running back Billy Sims dazzled TV screens on Saturdays. As a junior, Sims won the Heisman in 1978 after setting a personal-best 1,762 rushing yards, averaging 7.6 ypc., and scoring 20 times for the 11-1 Sooners. Shortly after the turn of the century, the Sooners’ RB Adrian Peterson arguably recorded the greatest season ever by a freshman runner: He rambled for 1,925 yards and 15 scores in 2004. A performance that will never be forgotten by college fans.

While redshirt sophomore Gavin Sawchuk will not reach the heights of Sims or Peterson, he does profile as the lead runner in the Sooners’ backfield. Last year, he paced the team in rushing with 744 yards and scored nine times, finishing the season with a five-game 100-yard rushing streak. He also collected honorable mention All-Big 12. A four-star recruit, Sawchuk was the No. 1 prospect in Colorado and No. 4 running back in the nation as a high schooler. He selected Oklahoma over Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC.

Coach Brent Venables’ program joins the SEC this year and has one of the toughest schedules in the country. Venables put former North Texas coach Seth Littrell in charge of the offense, and the new OC needs to provide sophomore quarterback Jackson Arnold with a solid ground game. At 5’11” and 195 pounds, Sawchuk will be one of the Sooners’ keys to success in 2024.

Scouting Notebook: “Oklahoma should have reason for optimism at running back entering its first SEC season, with Gavin Sawchuk proving he has what it takes to be a No. 1 option. The redshirt sophomore enjoyed a breakout 2023 campaign, at least during the second half of the season after he fully recovered from a lingering hamstring injury. Sawchuk heads into the spring as Oklahoma’s top running back,” Tom Greene penned (247Sports.com).

CJ Baxter, Jr., Texas

Team Offense (Rank): 478 ypg. (9)

Rushing: 188 ypg. (24)

Scoring: 35.8 ppg. (15)

2024 FPPG: 10.4

Fantrax ADP: 53.5

In a draft, fantasy footballers must take calculated risks in order to build the best roster possible. CJ Baxter is one of my risk-reward players and I am willing to roll the dice in 2024. Coach Steve Sarkisian likes to identify one main ball carrier and feed the playmaker with touches. As offensive coordinator at Alabama, Sarkisian featured Najee Harris in 2019 and 2020, and Bijan Robinson and Jonathan Brooks in the last two campaigns at Texas. When Brooks went down last November, CJ Baxter stepped up to the plate for the Longhorns.

A highly recruited prospect in high school, Baxter was ranked No. 26 nationally, No. 2 among running backs, and No. 6 overall in Florida. An All-America and all-state honoree, he also participated in the 2023 Under Armour All-America Game. Baxter matriculated to Texas in order to further his football education.

As a true freshman last year, Baxter rushed for 659 yards and five touchdowns. The 6’1” and 218-pounder started six games and gained a season-best 117 yards versus Iowa State. He was selected honorable mention Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Freshman All-America (College Football Network). Baxter will compete with junior Jaydon Blue for the starter’s role in training camp. By the end of the season, the winner will be one of the top CFF runners, and I am putting my chips on Baxter to win the role in Texas.

Scouting Notebook: “CJ Baxter hits like a hammer. He displayed his trucking ability on Saturday and it should put Texas opponents on notice. Baxter was a good player as a freshman, but I’m not sure we really know how high the ceiling is going to be for the five-star running back,” wrote Joey Hickey after the Orange-White game in the spring (longhorns wire.usatoday.com).

Malik Sherrod, Fresno State

Team Offense (Rank): 388 ypg. (62)

Rushing: 106 ypg. (116)

Scoring: 30.5 ppg. (45)

2024 FPPG: 18.9

Fantrax ADP: 16.9

Without the PAC-12 to watch late-night on Saturdays in the fall, it is time to become a Mountain West zealot, and Fresno State will be one of the more entertaining teams in the Conference. The offense scored over 30 points in six games last year, and the Bulldogs won nine games. In 2024, coach Jeff Tedford can rely on an offensive line that returns four starters, a solid quarterback, Mikey Keene, and a dynamic pass-catching back, Malik Sherrod.

During his first three seasons on campus, Sherrod remained on the sideline behind Jordan Mims and Ronnie Rivers. In 2023, his patience was rewarded when he earned the starting job in the Bulldogs’ backfield. Sherrod posted a career-best 172 carries and 966 rushing yards while scoring nine times. He tallied 44 receptions for 260 yards and another touchdown. He also returned eight kicks for 236 yards and a score, capping the campaign with 1,462 all-purpose yards, fourth most in the MW. Sherrod is an underrated star in college football and well-worth missing sleep on the East Coast this season.

Scouting Notebook: After holding a youth football camp in early June, Sherrod revealed why: “I wanted an opportunity like this when I was a little bit younger, so to be able to give back to the kids and show them some skills that I wanted to learn as a kid as well. I feel like that’s the main reason why I came back out. The Valley is just so welcoming. You get here, and it’s just a great community. It’s filled with love, so being able to give back to that loving community, that’s all I want to do.” (mph.com)

Mario Anderson, Memphis

Team Offense (Rank): 459 ypg. (14)

Rushing: 152 ypg. (75)

Scoring: 39.4 ppg. (6)

2024 FPPG: 11.0

Over the past five seasons, Memphis has averaged 1,937 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground, and both Kenneth Gainwell (2019) and Blake Watson (2023) surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the Tigers. In 2024, former South Carolina running back Mario Anderson is the first in line to earn the majority of carries in coach Ryan Silverfield’s run scheme.

Coming out of high school, Anderson attended Newberry College in South Carolina (a Division II program) and did not play much in 2019 and 2020—redshirt season and COVID. In 2021, Anderson exploded for the Wolves, earning first-team All-South Atlantic Conference honors after rushing for 1,237 yards on 233 carries and scoring 12 touchdowns. The next year, he was even better, rushing for a school-record 1,560 yards. He was tabbed First Team All-America (AP) and first-team All-South Atlantic Conference. The Wolves’ ball carrier was one of nine finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is the Heisman of Division II football.

In 2023, Anderson joined South Carolina to ply his trade. The well-traveled runner now adorns the Blue and Gray at Memphis after a season in which he gained 707 yards and three touchdowns. He also snared 22 passes for 153 yards and a score. At 5’9” and 208 pounds, Anderson and Memphis are a near-perfect match of talent and scheme for CFF diehards in 2024.

Scouting Notebook: “It’s gritty, the way we practice, the way we work out, the way we do everything around here. It’s really gritty. And that’s the Memphis way. I love it,” Anderson said about the Tigers’ practice sessions (commercialappeal.com).


Twitterverse on Fire!

A running back has not won the Heisman since Derrick Henry in 2015 at Alabama. If you were to place a wager on one runner to capture the award in 2024, Who Ya Got among the following candidates?

  • Quinshon Judkins, OSU: 18%
  • Ollie Gordon, OKA: 63%
  • TreVeyon Henderson, OSU: 11%
  • Damien Martinez, MIA: 8%

“The Ohio State duo is gonna cannibalize themselves out of the Heisman trophy.” @JohnMcGlynn75

“Only one with a shot is Ollie Gordon. Quinshon Judkins and TreVeyon Henderson will eat into each other’s opportunities too much. Don’t see Damien Martinez performing better at Miami than he did at Oregon State.” @GUMP7285

“Jordan James, DJ Giddens, Cedric Baxter are on teams with strong college football playoff chances.” @huddlea12

“Give me the long shot Damien Martinez! Folks want the Canes to be great. If he could get Miami there, voters would LOVE the narrative.” @aceholesrule

“I went with Ollie Gordon. OSU backs will eat into each other’s Midwest votes. Gordon would run away with it.” @ProbascoLuke

“Ollie Gordon is in prime position to win the Heisman. He has a history of production and has a team that will feed him the ball.” @JGoody77


Quinton Cooley, Liberty

Team Offense (Rank): 499 ypg. (4)

Rushing: 293 ypg. (1)

Scoring: 38.3 ppg. (9)

2024 FPPG: 17.6

Fantrax ADP: 42.6

After decades of nonsense polls deciding national champions, college football adopted a four-team playoff in 2014. During the past ten years, many college football fans advocated for a bigger postseason format. In 2024, the dream becomes reality with a 12-team playoff with one invite reserved for the highest-ranked G5 team. With QB Kaidon Salter and RB Quinton Cooley leading the offense, Liberty is one of the favorites to earn a spot in the enlarged tournament.

The Flames led the nation in rushing last year, and Cooley paced the club with 1,401 yards, dashing for 6.3 ypc. At 5’7” and 210 pounds, he added 16 scores on the ground, logged seven 100-yard performances, and three times scored two or more touchdowns. The senior was appointed to the First Team All-C-USA and named C-USA Newcomer of the Year. From 2020-2022, Cooley suited up at Wake Forest before transferring to Liberty last year. The upcoming schedule is elementary, and coach Jamey Chadwell will rely on his running game to subjugate opponents with Cooley.

Scouting Notebook: Cooley’s nickname is the Bowling Ball: “I am the bowler, the ball, and all the defenders are the pins. I try to get that strike and if I don’t, I am going to finish them up with a spare,” the Liberty runner revealed last December (restorationnewsmedia.com).

Kyle Monangai, Rutgers

Team Offense (Rank): 306 ypg. (102)

Rushing: 169 ypg. (55)

Scoring: 23.2 ppg (94)

2024 FPPG: 14.6

Fantrax ADP: 42.8

Coach Greg Schiano is attempting to mirror the Rutger’s team he guided to an 11-2 record in 2006. The Scarlet Knights began the magical campaign with nine wins and catapulted to No. 7 on the rankings before losing to Cincinnati on November 18. Philosophically, Rutgers ran the football behind Ray Rice, who rushed for 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns and played solid defense. It is clear that Schiano has built another team centered around stopping opponents and the ground game.

Last year, Kyle Monangai led the Big Ten in rushing with 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns. He was named First Team All-Big Ten (PFF) and Academic All-Big Ten for the third time. The senior logged the first 1,000-yard campaign by a Scarlet Knight since 2012 and tied for the fourth-highest season mark in school history. He eclipsed 100 yards in a game seven times and three times exceeded 150 yards. Monangai and the Knights avoid Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State on the schedule and return a senior-laden offensive line. It appears to be smooth sailing for Schiano’s ground-it-out scheme with Monangai leading the charge.

Scouting Notebook: “I wanted to do another year with my guys, and I thought it was probably best for me personally to come back and for the team. Why miss out on an opportunity to be able to do something special? And I think this coming season, we’re going to be able to take it even a step further than we were able to this year. We have bigger aspirations and dreams for ourselves,” Monangai declared (rutgerswire.com).

Jahiem White, West Virginia

Team Offense (Rank): 435 ypg. (27)

Rushing: 229 ypg. (3)

Scoring: 31.5 ppg. (38)

2024 FPPG: 11.5

Fantrax ADP: 75.9

The eyeball test can be deceiving. Paradoxically, it can be eye-opening. When I first saw Jahiem White against BYU last year, White looked so much faster than everyone on the field. He sprinted for 146 yards on only 16 carries, averaging 9.1 ypc. Two weeks later, I went out of my way to see White versus Cincinnati: He blew me away again. He scampered for 204 rushing yards and a score and snatched a pass for a 75-yard touchdown. He had confirmed my first impression.

For the season, the true freshman averaged 7.7 ypc, a school record, on 109 attempts and dashed for 842 yards and four touchdowns. He also corralled five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. A three-star high school recruit, White scampered for 1,918 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns while also accruing 33 catches for 428 yards as a senior. He was ranked as the No. 44 running back nationally and No. 10 prospect in Pennsylvania.

A home run hitter, the sophomore thrives on efficiency not volume, and is not likely to garner goal-line carries with both QB Garrett Greene and RB CJ Donaldson on the roster. Nevertheless, if White earns an uptick in touches, he becomes a top-flight CFF playmaker.

Scouting Notebook: “There was buzz around the true freshman since (Jaheim) enrolled at West Virginia this past spring, but he entered the season as a backup and did not take the field opening night against Penn State. But his playing time increased throughout the season, and he became the breakout star for a Mountaineers team that went 8-4,” wrote Matt Allison last winter (ydr.com).

Abu Sama III, Iowa State

Team Offense (Rank): 365 ypg. (79)

Rushing: 120 ypg. (101)

Scoring: 26.2 ppg. (70)

2024 FPPG: 9.1

The new Big 12 is balanced heading into the season, and the Cyclones are one of the teams with an outside chance at winning the Conference albeit a small one. Last year, Iowa State won seven games and coach Matt Campbell has guided the Cyclones to a 53-48 record over the past eight years. Both David Montgomery (2016-2018) and Breece Hall (2019-2021) excelled in Campbell’s run game and Abu Sama, III flourished as a true freshman in 2023.

The 5’11” and 200-pounder rushed for 614 yards and scored six times. He was named to the True Freshman All-America Team (247Sports) and earned the Big 12 Offensive Player and Newcomer of the Week awards for his performance at Kansas State in late November. In the game, Sama rushed for 276 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first runner since Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in the Big 12 to score two rushing touchdowns over 70 yards—all three scores covering 60-plus yards—in a game. I’ll bet on Sama reaching his ceiling in Campbell’s scheme this season.

Scouting Notebook: “(Sama’s) eagerness to learn, his determination, his work ethic is unbelievable. Just some of the small details—my role for him is alignment, assignment, read, key, track. After that, cut it loose and play fast,” new Cyclones RB coach Tyler Roe proclaimed (the gazette.com).

2024 CFF RB Projections

PlayerRush YardsRecs.Rec. YrdsTDsPointsAvg.
LeQuint Allen1,2004125012258.021.5
RJ Harvey1,2502629014264.022.0
Jalen White1,0201511512200.516.7
Makhi Hughes1,220201809214.017.8
Gavin Sawchuk1,0502417010206.017.2
Cedric Baxter Jr.1,200302209226.018.8
Malik Sherrod1,0505032011253.021.1
Mario Anderson1,3002015012237.019.8
Quinton Cooley1,300106014230.019.2
Kyle Monangai1,420128011228.019.0
Bhayshul Tuten1,0703527012241.020.1
Jaheim White1,1001518010203.016.9
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