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Rivals Camp Series: Ranking the running backs

Daylan Smothers
Daylan Smothers

The 2022 Rivals Camp Series regional stops are finished and only the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge remains, and that event looms large in a couple of weeks. This week, we are taking a position-by-position look at which prospects impressed us the most at the regional events this year.

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MORE FROM THIS SERIES: Ranking the QBs

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RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series

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1. Daylan Smothers, Charlotte RCS

They call him “Hollywood,” and it’s an accurate nickname because Smothers shines brightest on the biggest stage. The four-star looked smooth through the running back drills, surprisingly powerful when blocking linebackers and then he torched everybody during the one-on-one portion of the camp.

Whether it’s running the ball, blocking or catching it out of the backfield, Smothers is that triple threat that should be so valuable to college programs. Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida State, NC State, Tennessee and others remain involved.

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2. Roderick Robinson, Los Angeles RCS  

At 6-foot-1 and 229 pounds, Robinson was one of the biggest high-end running backs at the Rivals Camp Series this offseason but also one of the most dominant. The San Diego Lincoln standout was phenomenal at the Los Angeles RCS stop in drills, showing surprisingly slick feet for someone his size and he caught all kinds of passes during one-on-ones.

The new UCLA commit is not a burner but he has good enough speed to create separation and get to the edge in the run game, and showed it during camp.

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3. Kaleb Jackson, New Orleans RCS  

Rocked up, physical and fast, Jackson showed all his skills at the New Orleans RCS and took away positional MVP honors. The four-star is going to mainly run between the tackles and make his money that way, but he can also block because of his stature.

The Baton Rouge (La.) Liberty Magnet standout is not going to give up any ground, he’s a hard-nosed, tough runner and he can be utilized as a pass-catching weapon, too.

LSU, Texas A&M and others remain high on his list.

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4. Javin Simpkins, Miami RCS  

Simpkins shined at the Miami RCS by showing what makes him so valuable on the field: He’s a speed back with elusiveness and playmaking ability, and even though he has a small catch radius, linebackers and defensive backs have a tough time getting their hands on him.

The former Georgia Tech commit is a pure all-purpose back who can run the ball and take hits or line up in the slot and make things happen that way.

Louisville, Arkansas and Texas stand out most.

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5. Darrion Dupree, Indianapolis RCS

The 2024 prospect from Chicago Mt. Carmel showed excellent speed and playmaking ability in Indianapolis. Linebackers had no luck keeping up with Dupree, and he just kept making plays out of the backfield.

He’s fast, elusive, athletic, he has good hands and there’s a whole lot more to his game as a pure running back, too, since he showed off great feet through the drills.

Since the Rivals Camp, Dupree has seen his recruitment take off with new offers from Boston College, Kansas State, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and many others.

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6. Jayden Scott, Atlanta RCS

On one rep, Scott took No. 1 2024 linebacker Sammy Brown deep, and even though Brown was right there with him stride-for-stride Scott made a tough catch that was really impressive. And then the Stockbridge, Ga., 2024 RB kept doing it to other linebackers, lining up in the slot or coming out of the backfield, and making catches all day in Atlanta. He has great route-running ability and deceptive speed down the field to go with hands like a receiver.

South Carolina, Purdue, Wake Forest, Boston College and others have offered in recent weeks.

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7. Kameron Davis, Atlanta RCS

During one of the highlight reels from the Atlanta RCS, a coach commented when Davis was running a route that Davis would be a 13-year NFL veteran. That’s what the Florida State commit looks like: Someone who can physically take the toll of a grinding running back’s life but also be thoroughly productive for many years to come.

The 2024 four-star running back from Albany (Ga.) Dougherty is chiseled, can take a pounding but can also deliver force when blocking linebackers.

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8. Yasin Willis, Philadelphia RCS  

Willis meant business at the Philadelphia RCS just a few weeks ago, and the Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph’s running back was arguably the best blocker at his position during the regional events.

Willis is big and strong, does not back away from being physical and mean, and then plays through the whistle, so everyone knows his nature as a running back. The three-star was also impressive during the drills and one-on-one portions, but what really stood out was just how strong and fierce he likes to play.

Rutgers, Syracuse and other Northeast schools are involved, but things could pick up even more.

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9. Marquise Collins, Dallas RCS

As Collins got more comfortable with the drills and the one-on-one session it became clear that the College Station, Texas, standout was in line for MVP honors at the Dallas RCS.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound three-star running back is an excellent and willing blocker, he showed smooth footwork through all the drills and then coming out of the backfield he was lethal catching the ball. There’s not a ton of shake to his game; he’s more about pounding the ball and using his burst to get open.

Baylor, Houston, Duke and others are among his finalists.

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10. Peyton Jones, Charlotte RCS  

If Daylan Smothers didn’t have such an incredible day at the Charlotte RCS then Jones would have been in contention for MVP honors because he quietly went through every segment and shined. During drills, Jones looked smooth and effortless but he especially stood out blocking and then catching the ball during one-on-ones.

An excellent route runner who can create space against anybody, Jones shined in that element and was right there for MVP honors.

Virginia Tech, Kentucky and others are involved.

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