May 21, 2024

Ranking the ACC’s best running backs of 2023

ACC's best running backs of 2023

North Carolina running back Elijah Green carries the ball in the second quarter of the Holiday Bowl against Oregon Wednesday December 28, 2022 at Petco Park. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

The conference will field some young talent in the backfield this fall.

There are a plenty of rushers who’ll be looking to make a name for themselves. Some are veterans, while others are inexperienced, but they all bring a unique skill set to the table.

The ACC will have big bruisers, and sideline speedsters. Rather it’s carrying the ball, catching or blocking, these 14 running backs are poised to make statements in 2023.

14. LeQuint Allen, Syracuse: The former three-star prospect had a promising true freshman campaign as Sean Tucker’s backup last season. Allen made an immediate impact, and finished third on the team in carries and rushing yards. He rushed for 38 yards against Florida State. The New Jersey native generated a season-high, 112 yards on the ground, and a score in the victory over Wagner. Allen displayed soft hands, and hauled in a 41-yard touchdown pass at Wake Forest. The six-foot, 195-pounder left a lasting impression, with 94 rushing yards and 60 receiving in the bowl game against Minnesota. Juwaun Price will be in the mix also. However, he only registered eight carries in 2022.

13. Perris Jones, Virginia: Although he had no stars out of high school, he still finished second on the team in carries and rushing yards last season. Jones generated 56 yards on the ground against Old Dominion. The Virginia native rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown at Syracuse. Jones recorded a season-high, 104 rushing yards and scored twice, including an 11-yard touchdown reception in the victory over Richmond. Not to mention Jones hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass, and added 41 on the ground against Duke. Mike Hollins will be in the rotation too after making a remarkable recovery from a gunshot wound he suffered last year. Hollins even rushed for a score in the spring game.

12. Patrick Garwo, Boston College: The Pennsylvania native had a solid campaign, and rushed for 1,045 yards in 2021. However, Garow’s production took a big dive after the Eagles finished dead last in the FBS in rushing offense last season. He registered 78 yards on the ground and two touchdowns in the victory over Maine. The former four-star prospect rushed for 41 yards at Florida State, and 66 against Louisville. Garwo recorded a season-high, 83 rushing yards and a score against Syracuse. The five-foot-nine, 208-pounder caught two passes for 42 yards in the spring game. Western Kentucky transfer Kyle Robichaux should help after rushing for 406 yards and three touchdowns last year.

11. Bhayshul Tuten, Virginia Tech: The former three-star prospect rushed for 1,411 yards, and 13 touchdowns last season at North Carolina A&T. Tuten eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in 10 of the Aggies’ 11 games. He should be able to make an immediate impact for a team that finished 13th in the ACC, and 113th nationally in rushing offense. Malachi Thomas is back fully healthy, which is a plus. The Georgia native only played in three games last season. Thomas rushed for a season-high, 84 yards, and a touchdown against Pittsburgh. He hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass against Miami. The Hokies have depth after Bryce Duke and Chance Black combined fo 157 rushing yards in the spring game.

10. Rodney Hammond, Pittsburgh: The Virginia native backed up Israel Abanikanda last season, but finished second on the team in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Hammond rushed for 74 yards and two scores in the opener against West Virginia. He generated 56 yards on the ground in the victory at Miami, and 39 in the win at Virginia. Hammond carried the ball 28 times for 124 yards against Syracuse, which were both season-highs. The former three-star prospect left a lasting impression with 94 rushing yards, and two touchdowns in the bowl game against UCLA. Hammond was solid in the Panthers’ spring game. He didn’t have many carries, but posted a nine-yard run.

9. Jordan Houston, NC State: The former three-star prospect led the Wolfpack in carries and rushing yards last season. Houston rushed for 55 yards at East Carolina, and 53 against Wake Forest. He hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass against Charleston Southern. The Maryland native contributed a lot in the victory over Texas Tech, and finished with 57 yards on the ground. Houston made a big impact against Boston College, and rushed for 71 yards. His 24 carries and 90 rushing yards in the win over Florida State were both season-highs. NC State still has plenty of talent left in the backfield approaching the fall, despite losing its’ No. 2 rusher from 2022. Demi Sumo hit the transfer portal.

8. Donate Smith, Georgia Tech: The Tennessee native backed up Hassan Hall, but still finished first on the team in rushing touchdowns, and second in yards on the ground. Smith rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown in the victory at Virginia Tech. He also generated a rushing score in the win at North Carolina. Smith rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns against Western Carolina, which were both season-highs. Not to mention he’s been productive throughout his time as a Yellow Jacket, with 1,159 career rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Smith pretty much picked up where he left off in Georgia Tech’s spring game, and carried the ball five times for 27 yards and a score.

7. Jordan Waters, Duke: Like last season, the Blue Devils will have a three-headed monster in the backfield. Waters, Jalen Coleman and Jaquez Moore are all former three-star prospects, and do damage in different ways on the gridiron. The six-foot, 215-pound Waters finished second on the team in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season. He rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns apiece against Northwestern and North Carolina. Waters also scored against Kansas, Virgina, Miami and Boston College.  Coleman rushed for a touchdown in each of Duke’s first four games. Moore generated a season-high, 82 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles.

6. Elijah Green, North Carolina: The former three-star prospect finished first on the team in rushing touchdowns, and second in carries and rushing yards last season. Green rushed for two touchdowns in the victory at Duke. He generated 91 yards on the ground, and caught a 22-yard touchdown pass against Virginia. Green rushed for 66 yards and a score in the win at Wake Forest, and added another against Pittsburgh. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder had 24 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown against NC State. Green posted a season-high, 92 rushing yards and two scores against Georgia Tech. His eight rushing scores took place over the Tar Heels’ final six games of the regular season.

5. Henry Parrish Jr., Miami: The Florida native led the Hurricanes in carries and rushing yards last year. Parrish rushed for 108 yards and a season-high, three touchdowns in the opening victory over Bethune-Cookman. The following week he recorded 109 yards on the ground and a score against Southern Miss. Parrish rushed for 85 yards against Texas A&M, and 63 against Duke. He hauled in a touchdown pass apiece against Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina. The former four-star prospect registered a season-high, 113 rushing yards at Virginia. Not to mention the cherry on top to Parrish’s breakthrough campaign was capping off the year with third-team, All-ACC honors.

4. Justice Ellison, Wake Forest: The former three-star prospect led the Demon Deacons in carries and rushing yards last season. Ellison rushed for 80 yards against VMI, 81 against North Carolina, 67 against Syracuse and 73 against Clemson. He recorded 96 yards on the ground and a touchdown against Army. Ellison posted a season-high, 114 rushing yards and a touchdown in the victory at Florida State The 5-foot-10, 208-pounder also generated a rushing score against Liberty and Duke. Ellison left a lasting impression with 64 rushing yards and a touchdown in the bowl win over Missouri. For his heroics on the gridiron, Ellison finished the season with third-team, All-ACC honors.

3. Jawhar Jordan, Louisville: The New York native led the Cardinals in carries and rushing yards in 2022. Jordan rushed for 91 yards against Florida State, and 73 at Clemson. He generated 117 yards on the ground against James Madison. Jordan rushed for 105 yards and a score in the victory over NC STate. The former three-star prospect also found the endzone at Virginia. Jordan left a lasting impression with 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the bowl win over Cincinnati. Maurice Turner will be in the mix too, after rushing 314 yards last season. His 31 carries and 160 yards on the ground against the Bearcats were both season-highs. Turner posted 31 rushing yards in the spring game.

2. Trey Benson, Florida State: The 20-year old averaged 6.43 yards per carry last season, which ranked first in the ACC and 13th in the FBS. Benson rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Duquesne. He had 111 yards on the ground against Georgia Tech. The former four-star prospect made a statement against Miami, with 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His 163 rushing yards at Syracuse were a season-high. Benson eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards, and had a season-high, three touchdowns in the win over Florida. The Mississippi native rushed for 593 of his 990 yards over the final five games of the regular season, and earned second-team, All-ACC honors.

1. Will Shipley, Clemson: The North Carolina native recorded a stellar true sophomore campaign, and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing last year. Shipley finished second in the ACC in rushing yards. His 15 rushing touchdowns ranked second in the conference and 15th nationally. The former five-star prospect capped off last season with first-team, All-ACC honors. Shipley put together 100-yard performances against the likes of Syracuse, Louisiana Tech, Wake Forest and South Carolina. He had two rushing scores apiece in wins over Georgia Tech and Furman. Shipley scored in seven ACC games. Not to mention he has 1,921 yards on the ground, plus 26 touchdowns over the past two seasons.