The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) remains one of the best conferences in college football for running backs. Over the years, it’s been home to some of the best offensive skill players.
In recent years, the ACC has provided multiple running backs to the NFL. Gio Bernard, Dalvin Cook and Devonta Freeman are recent ACC running backs to achieve success professionally. Going into the 2020 season, the ACC is loaded at the running back position.
These players include game-changers, physical, short-yard runners and pass-catching threats culminating into possibly the best running back conference in the country. Here are the best of them:
1. Travis Etienne, Clemson
Etienne shocked many rival ACC schools by returning. Last season, he was the conference’s number one running back. He comes into the 2020 season holding the same title. Etienne ran for 1,614 yards and more than 400 yards receiving. He’s a complete running back. He can block, run between the tackles and attack the edge. Etienne broke 90 tackles last season providing explosive offensive plays for Clemson.
2. Javian Hawkins, Louisville
The University of Louisville is home to two of the most explosive players in not only the ACC, but the country. Along with Wide Receiver Tutu Atwell, running back Javian Hawkins is special. As a redshirt freshman, Hawkins put the league on notice.
Hawkins exploded for more than 1,500 yards for a nearly six yards-per-carry and nine TDs. His raw ability is scary given he gained experience from Scott Satterfield. Hawkins may already be the best running back to attack the edge in the conference. He’s excellent at setting up blocks and comeback moves. Hawkins had 100+ rushing yards games against the best teams UofL played, finishing on the Second Team All-ACC in 2019. In 2020, he’ll have votes for All-ACC honors.
3. Michael Carter, North Carolina
Michael Carter’s game is not explosive, but consistent. He keeps drives alive having 5.5 per carry. He had a rock-solid junior season with a 1,000-yard season, despite having only three touchdowns.
He was great between the ’20s, but UNC wouldn’t give him enough ball in the red zone. Out of the backfield, he had 21 catches. The year before, he had 25. This skill set makes him one of the best third-down backs in the conference.
Carter’s also a solid pass blocker. While his upside may not be as high Hawkins and Etienne, he does all the dirty work to succeed. He’s a physical runner who’s better between the tackles than the edge.