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Top 10 RB recruiting classes of 2017

National Signing Day coverage continues as breaks down each position to see which school did the best. Here is a look at which teams loaded up at running back:

MORE: Best 1-2 punch at RB | Top 10 QB classes of 2017 cycle



Khalan Laborn
Khalan Laborn

Although Alabama signed the No. 1 player at the position and the first running back to be ranked No. 1 overall since Bryce Brown in 2009, Florida State is the clear-cut choice for the No. 1 running back class in 2017. The difference between Harris and Akers for No. 1 at the position was razor thin, and the Seminoles complement him with another five-star in Under Armour All-America Game MVP Khalan Laborn as well as four-star Zaquandre White. The cherry on the running back sundae in Tallahassee was adding three-star Deonte Sheffield, who can also play in the slot, just before National Signing Day.


Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson

Although Harris committed to Alabama in the spring of his sophomore year, that did very little for the comfort level of Nick Saban and his staff as they had to fend off a host of pursuers for the following two years. Harris did not make it easier on them, making several visits and eventually announcing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he would just show up at one school – either Alabama or Michigan – and not make a public announcement. Three days later he was in Tuscaloosa and the Crimson Tide bring in possibly the best prep running back since Adrian Peterson. They then added insult to injury for the rest of the SEC by also bringing in fellow Rivals100 back Brian Robinson in the class.


Kennedy Brooks
Kennedy Brooks

The Sooners just missed out on a top-five class in 2017, but their 27-member group has the potential to be a cornerstone class for future Sooner championships. Running back may not even be their most talented position, as defensive back, offensive line, linebacker and wide receiver are also extremely deep with top talent, but in Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon they bring in a pair of guys who rank among the top 12 at their position, and good enough for a top three running back class. Oklahoma loses their top two rushers from last season with Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine headed to the NFL, so the arrival of Sermon and Brooks is right on time.


D.J. Durkin is a former National Recruiter of the Year and he proved his recruiting chops again by bringing in a top 20 class in his first full year with Maryland. The headliner is the No. 3 ranked all-purpose back in the class, Anthony McFarland, who was very important to the class not just from a talent standpoint, but also because he stayed home despite significant out-of-state pressure. But the strength of this running back group is in its depth, and Durkin was able to complement McFarland’s shiftiness with bigger running backs like Tayon Fleet-Davis and Javon Leake, both of whom rated as high three-star prospects.


The Sun Devils only signed 17 prospects in 2017 and their class ranked outside the top 50 in the nation, but at least for this position they delivered with a strong effort. Benjamin was a former Iowa commit who announced his pledge to Arizona State at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He becomes the first Rivals100 running back to sign with Arizona State since Ryan Bass in the 2008 class. Smith, meanwhile, committed last summer and, although not as highly-rated as Benjamin, was a nice pick-up out of the state of Texas for the Sun Devils. Neither is expected to be needed immediately, with Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard expected back in Tempe for the 2017 season.


The headliner of this three-man running back class for Tennessee will certainly, and rightfully, be four-star Ty Chandler, but it may end up just as interesting to watch how two-star Tim Jordan’s career in Knoxville develops. It was obvious late in the process that the Volunteers wanted to sign another running back, despite having Chandler and Trey Coleman in the fold since the summer. They were in on several four-star talents, but it ended up being Jordan, a two-star former Western Kentucky commit, who lands the last running back spot in the class.


Both Davis and Lemons just missed out on the Rivals250 in the 2017 class, but both were rated four-stars and give Florida depth of talent at the position. Whether this duo would ultimately be in this class was a question Florida had to wait until nearly the end of National Signing Day to find out. That was when Lemons became the final prospect in the class to fax his letter of intent to the offices in Gainesville and help close out a wave of five four-star pick-ups on the first day of the signing period.


The Razorbacks bring in one of the best complementary duos, with a speedy all-purpose type in Rivals250 prospect Chase Hayden, along with a bruising inside runner in Williams who tips the scales at well over 200 pounds. This group will help Arkansas further stock their running back cupboard after bringing in a pair of four-star running backs in the 2016 class including Devwah Whaley, who was the team’s second-leading rusher as a freshman. Hayden has a similar slashing running style to Whaley and could see similar success next fall.


There are big shoes to fill in Pittsburgh with former ACC Player of the Year and emotional leader James Conner leaving early for the NFL Draft. Pat Narduzzi and Co. did well addressing that need in the 2017 class, with two of their five highest-rated prospects coming at the position. Davis is a member of the Rivals250 and took his recruitment right to the end of the process, announcing for the Panthers on National Signing Day over fellow finalists Louisville and USF. Sibley, meanwhile, was an early commit to Ohio State but changed his pledge to the Panthers prior to the start of his senior season. Both future Pittsburgh backs played in this year’s Under Armour All-American Game.


By virtue of being three spots higher than Stephen Carr in the Rivals100, Swift helps Georgia edge out USC for the final spot in our countdown. And while several schools, including Texas and UCF, did land a four-star prospect among multiple running back signees, the position is such that the law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty quickly considering only one is on the field a majority of the time. Swift missed out on being a five-star by the narrowest of margins, checking in as the highest-ranked four-star prospect at any position in the class.