The 2021 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board will be rolled out during the next week by position, featuring players to watch. Today, we continue with running backs and fullbacks:
*NOTE: We at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl are disappointed for those players whose senior seasons have been disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In respect for those who may still play in 2021, we have altered our preseason Big Board to reflect only those seniors whose schools are actively preparing to play a fall season.
THREE TO WATCH
Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
Few running backs will be as “pro ready” for the NFL as UNC’s Michael Carter. A 1,000-yard rusher a season ago, the 5-9 and 195-pound back is an excellent athlete with superb vision, quick feet, a low center of gravity and deceptive strength to finish runs physically. His best trait, arguably, is his versatility to contribute as a rusher, receiver, kick returner and pass blocker. All of these things individually require mastery by a player in order to succeed at the highest level, and Carter demonstrates them on the field consistently.
Josh Johnson, RB, Louisiana-Monroe
In his first full season as a starter in 2019, Josh Johnson asserted himself as a bona fide first- and second-down rusher while eclipsing the 100-yard mark in seven games en route to 1,298 yards on the ground for the season. A thickly built, downhill runner with good vision to see the hole and the speed to get through it, the former JUCO transfer from Coahoma CC is most effective squaring his shoulders and running between the tackles. Standing at 5-9 and weighing 215 pounds is an advantage for this Warhawk RB, as he has the ability to sneak through small spaces and win the leverage battle when meeting a linebacker in the hole. Though a capable pass catcher and willing blocker, Johnson will have the 2020 season to fine tune his pass pro technique and demonstrate to NFL teams that he can be an every-down contributor.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
Rhamondre Stevenson is a big back even by NFL standards. Listed at 6-0 and 230 pounds, it’s rare to see RBs his size with his speed and explosiveness. As a JUCO starter at Cerritos College in 2018, the Las Vegas native rushed for over 2,100 yards in only 11 games. Last year at OU, he split time in the backfield but made an impact whether he touched the ball or not. In Coach Lincoln Riley’s offense, Stevenson was asked to block when not carrying the ball, and numerous defenders felt the brunt of his power upon impact. When he did tote the rock, his instant speed allowed him to gash defenses to the tune of a team-leading 8.0 yards per carry. Aiding his average is his determination to squeak out every yard by squaring his shoulders and running behind his pads.
2021 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS