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July 6, 2011

FlaVarsity ranks the top running backs

The 2012 running back class in the state of Florida, is not considered strong in depth, but there are three tremendous backs that stand out. Mario Pender, the 6-foot, 190 pound running back from Island Coast high school, is arguably the top back in the state. He is very fast, very strong, and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Just behind him is Matt Jones, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound back from Armwood high school. Jones is a power back that can carry the ball plenty of times and be a lead back in any offense. He is a workhorse that is tough to bring down. Randy Johnson from Miami Norland high school is right there with Pender and Jones. Johnson, the 5-foot-9, 170 pound ball carrier, is a smaller back, but he is quick, shifty, and if you give him an inch, he'll take way more than a yard.

There are some backs that are going to really show out during their senior years. South Dade running back Torry Clayton is one to watch. The 5-foot-9, 195 pound back runs very hard and loves contact. He is still under the radar, but major schools are starting to take notice. Brandon Radcliff, the 5-foot-10, 210 pound back out of Columbus high school is a true downhill runner. He has a very good mix of speed and strength and some consider a smaller version of Brandon Jacobs. He will be a 5-foot-11, 240 pound back in by the end of his college career. Fabian Moreau, the 6-foot, 180 pound running back from Western high school, is someone that is going to be a household name by the end of the year. He is very athletic and can easily play running back or wide receiver. He has long strides, can stop on a dime, and has very good speed.

This class has a great deal of potential and although most consider this running back class "top heavy", there is some depth that has yet to be discovered. Here are the running backs that made the FlaVarsity Top 160.

Mario Pender

Running Back

6-foot-0 | 190 | Island Coast

Buzz: Pender has the ability to run thru you, around you, or past you. He is very shifty, very fast, and very strong. Pender is borderline unstoppable at times.


Matt Jones

Running Back

6-foot-2 | 200 | Armwood

Buzz: Jones is your typical power back workhorse. He can carry the ball 30 times with ease and be ready for number 31. He is a tremendous back with strong legs.


Randy "Duke" Johnson

Running Back

5-foot-9 | 170 | Miami Norland

Buzz: Johnson is one of the top backs in the state. He has good speed and is very elusive. One thing that stands out is his ability to catch the ball with ease.


Torry Clayton

Running Back

5-foot-9 | 195 | South Dade

Buzz: Clayton is flying under the radar. He reminds me a lot of Rashard Mendenall out of high school. He has great quickness, runs hard, and loves contact.

Schools in the mix: Cincinnati, Florida State, Illinois, Miami, UCF, USF

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Brandon Radcliff

Running Back

5-foot-10 | 210 | Columbus

Buzz: Radcliff will be one of the top backs in the state. He is a downhill running back that has a great combination of power and speed. His vision is impressive.

Schools in the mix: Central Michigan, Cincinnati, FAU, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Vanderbilt

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Dami Ayoola

Running Back

5-foot-10 | 201 | St. Thomas Aquinas

Buzz: Ayoola has good speed to go with a very solid, thick frame. He has very strong legs and is tough to bring down on first contact.

Schools in the mix: Auburn, Boston College, Duke, FIU, Illinois, Iowa, Memphis, Notre Dame, UCF, USF

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Gary Holmes

Running Back

5-foot-9 | 175 | Seminole Ridge

Buzz: Holmes is a burner. He is a legit "4.3" guy and is very shifty. He is very tough to bring down in the open field. I expect his offer count to really rise this year.

Schools in the mix: Georgia Tech, Mississippi, South Carolina, TCU, Vanderbilt

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Irving Huggins

Running Back

6-foot-1 | 205 | Saint Cloud

Buzz: Huggins is definitely under the radar, but that is slowly changing. He is an explosive back that can really move. He is shifty like a small back, but he has very good size.

Schools in the mix: East Carolina, UCF, USF, West Virginia, Wisconsin

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Steven Braddy

Running Back

5-foot-11 | 200 | Ferguson

Buzz: Braddy is a thick, strong back that is hard to bring down. He may not be a smooth runner, but he gets the job done. He will complement a scat back very well.

Schools in the mix: Charlotte, Duke, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Miami, Navy, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma State, USF

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Danny Dillard

Running Back

6-foot-2 | 205 | Venice

Buzz: Dillard has great size and uses it well. He is a north-south runner and hits the hole hard. He won't shake you, but if you give him a chance, he will run right by you.

Schools in the mix: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Western Kentucky

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Fabian Moreau

Running Back

6-foot-0 | 180 | Western

Buzz: Moreau is one of the most elusive runners in the state. He is fast, shifty, and can really make people miss. He is similar to Michael Crabtree out of high school and could play receiver or running back.

Schools in the mix: Air Force, Arkansas, Bryant, FIU, Indiana, Northern Illinois, Oregon, Western Michigan

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Keith Byars II

Running Back

5-foot-10 | 205 | Boca Raton

Buzz: Byars is quite slippery for a bigger back. He has terrific hands out of the backfield and can usually make the first man miss. He is versatile out of the backfield. I expect him to end up as a full back.

Schools in the mix: Bowling Green, FIU, Louisville, Memphis, Western Michigan

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Jeremy Donaldson

Running Back

5-foot-11 | 204 | Pembroke Pines Charter

Buzz: Donaldson may lack offers now, but that will change soon. He is a tough runner that seeks out contact. I could see him developing into a solid BCS level fullback.

Schools in the mix: Boston College, FIU, Florida, Miami, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED

Jamie Gilmore

Running Back

5-foot-8 | 185 | North Marion

Buzz: Gilmore is shifty, elusive, and explosive. He is a compact runner that can take it the distance at any time. He is also a smart back with very quick feet.

Schools in the mix: Cincinnati, Duke, Hampton, Jacksonville, Marshall, Maryland, Middle Tennessee State, Rutgers, Temple, Troy, USF

College Decision: UNCOMMITTED


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