College Running Back Tiers

College Running Back Tiers

Continuing my analysis of college football skill and talent groupings, I move onto running backs. Only players from the 1998-2018 seasons were considered for the analysis. I again used sports-reference.com as the source for my data. For a player to be included in its rushing leader list, the player needs 6.25 carries per game. I use this qualification as well. I also removed any players who were included in the QB analysis (players with 14 pass attempts per game) to focus only on ball carriers. Some QBs, such as Navy’s Keenan Reynolds, would qualify as a RB rather than a QB for the purpose of this exercise. As with the quarterbacks, a cluster analysis was used to group players.

Average RB Stats by Tier

Att
Yards
TD
Avg
Rec
Rec.Yds
Rec.TD
Tier 1
22.31
127.17
1.26
5.70
1.75
16.07
0.09
Tier 2
17.26
89.78
0.82
5.20
1.54
13.74
0.07
Tier 3
12.71
61.98
0.56
4.88
1.28
11.04
0.06
Tier 4
9.01
38.31
0.35
4.25
0.97
7.98
0.04
Over the course of a 12-game regular season, both tier 1 and 2 rushers average 1000+ yards and about 10 TDs. To qualify for tier 1 a player needs to have a truly special season, rushing for 1500 yards and 15 TDs on average. Of the 4494 qualifying running backs, 413 rushers had tier 1 seasons while 957 players had tier 2 seasons. All tier 1 running back averaged at least 100 yards per game in their seasons.

Notable Tier 1 Seasons

2000 LaDainian Tomlinson; 1998 Ricky Williams; 2014 Melvin Gordon.

Who’s your favorite running back form the last 20 years? Let me know in the comments.

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