Below is everything you need to know about Pac-12 football media days in Hollywood.
TV: To be broadcast on Pac-12 Network
Live stream: Pac-12.com
Thursday, July 14
|Conference||Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott||9:00 a.m.|
|Utah||Kyle Whittingham (HC), JJ Dielman (OT) & Justin Thomas (DB)||9:55 a.m.|
|Arizona||Rich Rodriguez (HC), Nate Phillips (WR) & Sani Fuimaono (DL)||10:31 a.m.|
|California||Sonny Dykes (HC), Steven Moore (OT) & DeVante Wilson (DE)||10:57 a.m.|
|USC||Clay Helton (HC), Zach Banner (OT) & Adoree' Jackson (DB/KR/WR)||11:08 a.m.|
|Oregon||Mark Helfrich (HC), Royce Freeman (RB) & Johnny Ragin (LB)||11:58 a.m.|
|Washington State||Mike Leach (HC), Gabe Marks (WR) & Parker Henry (LB)||12:32 p.m.|
Friday, July 15
|Conference||Pac-12 VP of Officiating David Coleman||9:40 a.m.|
|Colorado||Mike MacIntyre (HC), Sefo Liufau (QB) & Chidobe Awuzie (CB)||10:01 a.m.|
|Arizona State||Todd Graham (HC), Tim White (WR/KR) & Tashon Smallwood (DL)||10:27 a.m.|
|Oregon State||Gary Andersen (HC), Victor Bolden (WR) & Nick Porebski (P)||11:02 a.m.|
|UCLA||Jim Mora (HC), Conor McDermott (OT) & Jayon Brown (LB)||11:28 a.m.|
|Washington||Chris Petersen (HC), Darrell Daniels (TE) & Kevin King (DB)||12:04 p.m.|
|Stanford||David Shaw (HC), Christian McCaffrey (RB) & Solomon Thomas (DE)||12:29 p.m.|
Running backs reigned supreme in college football last season. Alabama’s Derrick Henry captured the Heisman, and his biggest competition was Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, one of the best combinations of running and receiving we’ve ever seen. That doesn’t even take into account Leonard Fournette at LSU, who is more physically impressive than both of them. So if you like smash mouth football, well, the guys below are probably a cut above your tastes. Sorry. These players are game breakers, capable of taking a simple toss 80 yards to the end zone.
With that in mind, here are eight of the best returning running backs in college football.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Many thought McCaffrey deserved the Heisman Trophy in 2015, but he’ll have another crack at the award in 2016.
Kevin Hogan is gone, so the Cardinal will need to rely on the run more than ever. Let’s just say they’re in good hands.
McCaffrey rushed for 2,019 yards in 2015, and he’s a lethal receiving weapon out of the backfield. The junior-to-be caught 45 balls for 645 yards last season, and at 6-1, he could easily be one of the best wide receivers in college football if he wasn’t so special as a running back.
McCaffrey has plenty of style to go with his substance.
He’s one of the most electrifying college football players we’ve seen in the past decade.
Leonard Fournette, LSU
If McCaffrey is lightning, Fournette is thunder. Well, Fournette is awfully, quick, too. Perhaps he’s just both.
Fournette looked like he had the Heisman wrapped up in the middle of last season, but ultimately, LSU went in a tailspin and the stud rusher couldn’t recover. Still, that doesn’t take anything away from Fournette’s 2015 campaign, or what he should do in 2016.
Often facing eight defenders in the box, No. 7 in purple and yellow averaged more yards per carry (6.5) than McCaffrey or Henry. His 24 rushing touchdowns ranked fourth in the country, only behind Henry, Keenan Reynolds and Ezekiel Elliott.
That’s some good company.
Of the nation’s top-nine rushers in 2015, the Florida State speedster was the only one to average more than seven yards per carry. He also had the lowest amount of attempts of any player in the top 10 (229), but still managed to run for 1,691 yards, good for sixth in the country.
Cook is dynamic coming out of the backfield, too, having caught more than 20 passes in each of his last two seasons. Expect him to see more action in the passing game this year given Florida State’s uncertainty at the quarterback spot.
Royce Freeman, Oregon
It’s tempting to think you or I could run for 1,500 yards in Oregon’s offense, but Freeman is a special player.
It’s clear that Freeman was more than just a product of Marcus Mariota’s greatness. As the featured back in the Ducks’ offense a year ago, the then-sophomore scampered for 1,836 yards, finishing fourth in college football. He racked up 17 touchdowns, too, and constantly kept the sticks moving for Oregon.
Freeman rushed for more than 100 yards in his final nine games of 2015. That tells you his best is yet to come.
Wayne Gallman, Clemson
Deshaun Watson gets a ton of publicity at Clemson, and rightfully so. But don’t sleep on the guy who lines up behind him in the pistol formation.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Cook isn’t being put in the same class as guys like McCaffrey and Fournette, but by the end of this season, it’s easy to envision him getting there.