Recruiting: Top Running Backs

CSTV Recruiting with Tom Lemming
Generation Next

Aug. 9, 2005

By Tom Lemming

Special to



1. LeSean McCoy, Bishop McDevitt H.S. (Pa.), 6-0, 208 lbs., 4.35 (40-yard dash)


Entering the season, McCoy is the No. 1 player in the country, but it's a real close race with five or six guys. The hard-running Keystone State product gets the edge because he averaged close to 10 yards per carry last season. He looks small in person but when you see him run, he's got the size of a lot of NFL backs. Possessing a great burst with vision and balance, he's the total package. For him to excel, he's got to go to a program that will definitely start him as a freshman -- running backs have to start as freshman, as their shelf life is much shorter than other positions. If he does make the right choice of college, he'll be an immediate impact player.


2. Chris Wells, Garfield (Ohio), 6-2, 230 lbs., 4.48


After McCoy, the drop-off is hardly steep. Akron native Wells is, in effect, Maurice Clarett with a good attitude. He's the same uncanny combination of size, speed, vision and balance as the embattled ex-Buckeye, and he's certainly capable of doing what Maurice did as a frosh at Ohio State. I think he could become a household name in the first few weeks of his college career. As a junior, he carried the ball 212 times for 1,984 yards and 24 scores


3. James Aldridge, Merrillville H.S. (Ind.), 6-1, 218 lbs., 4.43


Aldridge is the prototypical big-time back, with great size, speed and vision. He's a tough inside runner, but he's a tough inside runner that can run the 100 meters in 10.7. He's really the total package. Notre Dame is desperate for a tailback, and this kid -- who plays high school ball just an hour away -- is just what the doctor ordered for the program's ailing offense. They've got little backs at Notre Dame, but no big back -- he's the first big one they've had since Julius Jones. Last season, Aldridge ran for over 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns.


4. Stafon Johnson, Dorsey H.S. (Calif.), 6-0, 200 lbs., 4.4


SoCal product Johnson has the ability to end up as the No. 1 back by season's end. He's such a good athlete that some people look at him as a defensive back or a linebacker, but he's a tailback. His yards per carry is fantastic in a tough Los Angeles city league. Schools have fallen in love with his complete package: size, speed and burst. He wants to go to Southern Cal, but their considerable depth at tailback leaves the matter in question. What's more, with other elite runners from the area on the table -- such as No. 9-ranked back C.J. Gable -- they can take their time choosing the right one.


5. Cordera Eason, Meridian H.S. (Miss.), 5-11, 234 lbs., 4.5


Eason's sort of an enigma. The stocky Southerner, already underexposed playing in Meridian, Miss., got hurt last year and slipped off a lot of radar screens. If he stays healthy and keeps in shape, he'll be a dominant player and end up in the NFL. Among the many schools currently courting him: Auburn (the prohibitive favorite), Ole Miss, Louisiana State, Florida State and Penn State.


6. Emmanuel Moody, Coppell H.S. (Texas), 6-0, 202 lbs., 4.44


Texas product Moody doesn't look like a running back. In person, he looks like a normal kid; on film, he looks like Superman. He's just a pure football player, with great instincts and running skills. I think "instincts" is the key word for him, what separates him from all the others. The lightning-quick back -- he runs the 100 meters in 10.6 -- ran for 1,319 yards and 12 touchdowns as a high school junior and committed to the Longhorns soon thereafter.


7. Latreal Cooper, Cuero H.S. (Texas), 6-1, 200 lbs., 4.4


Had he not missed his entire junior year because of an ACL tear, Cooper probably would have been the No. 1 back in the country entering the '05 season. Based on sophomore film alone, there might not be a better back in the country than the Texas native. He's committed to Texas A&M, and if he's healthy, he'll be one of the premier players in the country. He's got a lot to prove, but the skills are certainly there for him to be an impact player as a true freshman.


8. Knowshon Moreno, Middletown South H.S.  (N.J.), 5-11, 205 lbs., 4.5


Moreno is one of the top players in New Jersey, and should end his prep career as the state's all-time touchdowns leader. He received all kinds of state honors last year -- after carrying 218 times for 2,039 yards (9.3 yards per carry) and 37 scores -- and performed admirably at the Jersey elite combine. He's a good sized kid, with great burst, vision and balance. If he makes the right decision, he'll be an instant star in college. He runs more to the outside than inside, but he does have inside running ability. He does a good job of breaking the long one and had a lot of long runs.


9. C.J. Gable, Sylmar H.S. (Calif.), 6-0, 185 lbs., 4.46


With Stafon Johnson, Gable's the other guy in California that everybody's talking about, after running for 2,026 yards and 27 touchdowns without a fumble all season. He and Johnson know about each other, they don't want to go to the same school. Some internet recruiting sites are listing Johnson, because of his considerable athleticism, as a defensive back, suggesting that one school could get them both; they're both definitely tailbacks. Gable is more of a slasher than a power back, but he runs with good leg strength. His good vision and cutting ability will serve him well at the next level. Southern Cal and Miami are his top two choices.


10. C.J. Spiller, Lake Butler Union County (Fla.), 5-11, 185 lbs., 4.35


Javarris James and Spiller, who seems to have narrowed his choices to Florida and Florida State, are the best two backs in Florida. What he lacks in size, he compensates for with great instincts, cutting ability and speed that allows him to really not take a clean hit, and also to run away from most defenders. He's a human highlight film - you watch him and he just has great moves. Spiller also plays for the basketball team (averaging 17 points and 10 boards) and runs the 100 meters in 10.4.



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