SWAC Running Backs: Big play backs run the SWAC

Johnta Hebert, Prairie View 

The 2014 season was a disappointment for Prairie View, but a breakout year for the 5’10, 190pound running back from Baton Rouge. Already established as a special teams star, he emerged as a top-flight running back last season, as he rushed for 106.3 yards per game while retaining kick returning duties. He also led the SWAC in scoring with a total of 90 points, as he scored touchdowns rushing, passing, receiving and returning kicks.
// He rushed for over 100 yards in 6 of the final 8 games, rushing for 99 in Alcorn State.

(The Advocate Photo)

Lenard Tillery, Southern

Tillery entered the 2014 season coming off a solid freshman campaign, and didn’t disappoint as a sophomore. He got off to a slow start, rushing for under 80 yards in four of the first five games, but he came up big down the stretch to help Southern repeat as SWAC West Champs.

He was at his best during the Bayou Classic, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns as Southern held off an upstart Grambling squad. He couldn’t repeat that performance the following week, however, as Southern fell to Alcorn State in the SWAC Championship Game.

All told, though, last season was a success. He finished second in the SWAC with 1,063 yards and scored 9 touchdowns.

Aaron Baker, Alcorn State 

Baker did a lot with a little last year, making the most of his carries in an offense that spread them around. Four Braves ran the ball more than 85 times last season, led by quarterback John Gibbs Jr. Baker ran for 725 yards in just 113 attempts, averaging a blazing 6.4 yards per carry. And 13 of those attempts ended in touchdowns, leading the SWAC in that category. With Anthony Williams out of the picture, expect Baker to see the ball a lot more this season, which should scare everyone in the SWAC.

Darryan Ragsdale, Alcorn State 

Pretty much the same story for Ragsdale as it is for Baker. Baker had three 100-plus yard games, including a brilliant 173 yard, two touchdown game against Alabama State. He finished with 691 yards, good for the top ten in the SWAC, but just fourth on the team. As with Baker, Ragsdale should see his carries increase now that Williams is gone.

Khalid Thomas, Alabama State

Thomas has spent his first two seasons as a supporting cast member to Isaiah Crowell and later Malcolm Cyrus. Last season Thomas rushed for 545 yards on just 89 carries, also scoring five touchdowns.

Finally, as a junior, he has a chance to be ASU’s featured back. And the way new ASU coach Brian Jenkins loves to run the ball, the 5’9, 175 pound back should see plenty of it.

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