The West has a solid core of running backs for the season of 2004. In addition to running the football to move the chains, the modern day running back has to do more than just tote the football. With the advances made in the passing game most running backs these days have to be a threat out of the backfield as a receiver and be able to help as a blocker in pass protection.
The following list is a preliminary look at some of the best running backs in the West. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey has been turning out top-notch Division I prospects for years and this year is no different. This season it is safe to say that Jeremiah Johnson (5-10, 190, 4.4) will be another player in the sterling history of Don football to make the grade.
Johnson rushed for 1,295 yards and 20 touchdowns while splitting time with super junior to be running back Stafon Johnson (remember this one for next season).
As a junior, Jeremiah Johnson was selected all-city, all-region, all-league and was second-team all-state underclassmen while playing for a team that had a 12-1 record.
Johnson has good bloodlines, his older brother, Jerome Johnson, is a freshman fullback for the Oregon Ducks and was a standout linebacker at Dorsey two years ago.
Arizona is home for not just one of the best in the west, but indeed the nation in running back Terry Longbons (5-11, 211, 4.4) from Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial.
“One Pac10 coach told me there is no better running back in California than Terry,” Centennial head coach Richard Taylor said. “Terry has never been caught from behind. If he has an opening there is no messing around he’s through it and gone.”
Longbons was the only junior to make the super all-state team in 2003. He was also chosen first-team all-state (4A), area offensive player of the year and region offensive player of the year after rushing for 2,083 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Longbons needs roughly 2,500 yards as a senior to become the all-time leading rusher for the Grand Canyon State.
Longbons has heard from just about everyone and currently boasts offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Oregon and Nebraska.
There is a running back in North Hollywood, Calif., who compares to former USC and Kansas City Chief great with his silky smooth moves.
The player is Marlon Lucky (6-0, 202, 4.45) who just happens to be a member of the Rivals.com pre-evaluation top 100 team.
Whoever lands Lucky will be well lucky.
He was selected all-league, all-city and was team MVP as a junior. Lucky rushed for 1,778 yards and scored 28 rushing touchdowns. He is also a very adept receiver out of the backfield. Lucky caught 14 passes for 219 yards, averaging 15.6 yards per catch and two touchdowns. He also returned one kickoff for a touchdown.
“There are some running backs that may have a faster 40 time,” North Hollywood Brad Ratcliff said. “But Marlon plays at the same speed as he is timed in. It makes no difference if he’s in shorts or pads.
“Marlon is a winner. Whenever the game is on the line, he’s money.”
Lucky’s top five college choices are Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Washington, and USC. He is also very interested in UCLA and Oregon.
LSU and Washington have offered Lucky a scholie.
San Diego County is home for an iron man running back. This player plays clutch in tight situations and the best thing about tougher than nails running back is he doesn’t fumble.
Keep your eye on Darrell (pronounced Du-rell) Mack (6-1, 210, 4.5) from Spring Valley (Calif.) Monte Vista.
Mack was selected first-team all-CIF and all-county as a junior after rushing for 1,605 yards on 231 carries while averaging 6.9 yards per carry and scoring 15 touchdowns.
One of the most impressive things about Mack is hardiness and his endurance.
Mack broke the Section record for carries in a championship game with 50. He rushed for 255 yards and two games helping his team to a victory and a San Diego Section Division II championship.
Now you get the picture on why Mack is gaining the reputation for a being throwback iron man type of running back.
Another thing to like about Mack is the fact that during is awesome run to the championship he never fumbled once.
“That’s the reason we gave him the ball,” former Monte Vista head coach Ed Carberry said. “He took great care of it.”
According to Carberry, Mack is hearing from USC, UCLA, BYU, Colorado and Texas.
Another player from the Grand Canyon State who makes our list is Xavier Smith (6-1, 210, 4.5) from Tucson (Ariz.) Sunnyside.
Smith was one of the main reasons that Sunnyside won the State Division 4A championship in 2003.
The season got off to a rocky start for Smith and Sunnyside as they dropped their first two games of season only to rebound tear off 12 straight wins.
Smith was selected second-team all-state and first-team and first-team all-area and all-region after rushing for 1,800 yards. He scored 23 rushing touchdowns and averaged 10.2 yards per carry in 2003.
“This guy is legit,” Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said. “The thing to remember about Xavier is he such a great athlete and has extremely quick feet.”
New Arizona Wildcat head coach Mike Stoops is making a concerted effort to land all the local kids that have big time talent. The new staff has made Smith a priority recruit and has already tendered him an offer.
Besides Arizona; Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, ASU, Stanford, Texas Tech, and Northwestern are showing Smith early recruiting action.
Last in this report and certainly not least is Jonathan Stewart (5-11, 215, 4.4) from Lacey (Wash.) Timberline.
There is an argument that Stewart is the best running back in the West.
As a junior, Stewart rushed for 2,592 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was also selected all-state and all-league for his junior season performance. He was pretty good as a sophomore because was named all-state and all-league that season too.
“The more I see him, the more in awe of him I am,” Timberline coach Kevin Young said. “He's so good right now but the scary thing is he can get even better. As he continues to grow and mature more, he's going to be incredible and he already is now.”
Stewart has offers from Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Notre Dame. USC is very much in the hunt for Stewart.