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May 7, 2013

Rivals Camp Series: Top running backs

MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

The regional portion of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour is over, wrapping up in Chicago and totaling 15 events around the country. Rivals.com breaks down the best of the best at each position with a look at the running backs today. Led by Joe Mixon, who dominated the RCS in Los Angeles, here are the standouts in order.

(Note: The following list does not necessarily reflect future changes in prospect rankings; it is based only on performances at regional Rivals Camp Series events. Many other factors and events will be taken into account before updated rankings are revealed the week of May 20. This list is for the class of 2014 only. Underclassmen will be listed separately.)

RIVALS CAMP SERIES TOP RUNNING BACKS
1. Joe Mixon, Oakley (Calif.) Freedom
Mixon's grandmother died days before the Los Angeles RCS, but that didn't stop him from turning in a dominating performance. Mixon has outstanding size, and he is smooth and fluid. He showed excellent pass-catching abilities during the one-on-one drills. He was basically unstoppable all day, and he just landed his newest offer from Texas.

2. Mikel Horton, West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West
A camp setting should not favor the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Horton, yet the big back continues to shatter stereotypes. He walked away with the Offensive Skill MVP at the Cincinnati RCS. The event also saw Horton become the first prospect to use the Rivals Camp as a platform to announce his college selection, choosing the Kentucky Wildcats during the post-camp ceremony.

3. Nick Chubb, Cedartown (Ga.)
Chubb came into the RCS Atlanta stop ranked in the top 100, and he made a compelling case to hold onto his position. Chubb plays in an offense that doesn't see him do much work in the receiving game, but in Atlanta he looked great running routes and getting open downfield. Georgia is thought to be the leader for Chubb's services.

4. Stanley Williams, Bethlehem (Ga.) George Walton Academy
Williams was also a standout in Atlanta by getting back to basics and showing what made him a Rivals100 back in the first place. With terrific speed and quickness, and a great set of hands, he's built for the camp setting. Having recently de-committed from Georgia, Williams is back on the open market and plenty of schools are in the mix, including LSU and Kentucky.

5. Derrell Scott, Havelock (N.C.)
Known as one of the fastest backs in the state of North Carolina, Scott put his wheels on full display at the RCS Charlotte stop. Scott is an all-purpose back, and what made him so impressive in Charlotte was the way he got in and out of his breaks without sacrificing any of his quickness. South Carolina leads for Scott, but Notre Dame, Ohio State and Florida State are in the mix.

6. Samaje Perine, Pflugerville (Tex.) Hendrickson
Perine was viewed as one of the top backs in the region coming into the RCS in Houston. He was a member of the Rivals250, and he committed to Oklahoma just before the camp. In Houston, he showed he was more than a power back with some speed. He showed he also has quick feet and is a reliable receiver.

7. Kishawn Holmes, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta
Snoop Dogg gave the nickname "Sweet Feet" to Holmes a few months ago, and it's accurate because the diminutive running back is difficult to control in one-on-one situations. At the Los Angeles RCS, Holmes showed slick moves to break away from linebackers. He has outstanding hands, too.

8. D'Ernest Johnson, Immokalee (Fla.)
The RCS Miami event was deep at the skill positions, and Johnson sneaked under the radar to capture the Offensive Skill MVP award after winning a ton of reps in one-on-ones on seam, angle, and wheel routes. Johnson displayed adequate linear speed, quickness, hands and route running to be a threat in the passing game, which was something we wanted to see from the four-star prospect.

9. Nick Wilson, Fresno (Calif.) Central East
Speed is a big part of Wilson's game, and that's why he was attracted to Arizona's offense. He committed to the Wildcats this spring. He's fast in everything he does, whether it's drills against linebackers, drills with other running backs or getting out and burning defenders in one-on-one situations. He was one of the top running backs in Los Angeles.

10. Jeff Jones, Minneapolis (Minn.) Washburn
The 6-foot, 190-pound Jones is one of the smoothest athletes in the Midwest, and he showcased his talents at the Chicago stop of the Rivals Camp Series. Jones came into the camp stating he remains about 65 percent committed to Minnesota but is looking at programs such as Iowa State, Michigan State and Kentucky.

11. D.J. Riggins, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
Riggins has made a name for himself in a big way this spring, and he helped that reputation at the Phoenix RCS by performing well in one-on-one situations. The Oaks Christian standout is a great route runner, almost like a wide receiver, and he catches absolutely everything thrown his way.

12. Nathan Starks, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Starks has gotten himself expelled from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a top-level prospect. His size and ability to change directions on a dime are what make him special. That's never been a secret. Still, it's possible that his speed has been underrated by some, because he easily outran defenders on deep balls during the RCS stop in Phoenix.

13. Chris James, Niles (Ill.) Notre Dame College Prep
At 5-foot-9 and 198 pounds, James is a short, stocky back who looks built to run between the tackles. The Chicago RCS also showed us he has a great burst and the speed to run past defensive backs in the open field. He came into the May 4 event with double-digit scholarship offers and Michigan State and Pittsburgh among his favorites.

14. Markel Smith, St. Louis (Mo.) St. John Vianney
Smith has the reputation of a power back but showed he's more than just a downhill runner at the RCS stop in St. Louis. He looked downright smooth running routes against linebackers and was overwhelmingly physical at the line of scrimmage. Smith recently broke his commitment to Missouri and will now consider Ole Miss, Iowa and others.

15. RB Mikale Wilbon, Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle
The 5-foot-8, 191-pound Wilbon has the frame to be a punishing ball carrier, and he is exceptional in space because he gets in and out of his cuts quickly and has a great pair of hands. The Rivals250 back came into the St. Louis RCS soon after naming a top five, then committed to Vanderbilt days after his appearance.

16. RB Racean Thomas, Oxford (Ala.)
When you enter the camp as arguably the top skill player, a lot is expected. Thomas looked the part during individual and position drills before a foot injury slowed him in one-on-ones. The Rivals100 standout showed his above-average speed, lateral agility and a quick burst before being shutting it down early in the afternoon portion of camp at the RCS in Birmingham. Still, there was a lot to like with Thomas because of his playmaking and home run ability from the backfield.

17. Keith Harrington, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Northeast
At the RCS in Orlando, Harrington made a name for himself with a strong effort during one-on-ones as he constantly got open against linebackers and quicker defensive backs. Harrington is an ideal spread zone read running back with his cutting and start-and-stop ability. He is a mismatch as a receiver out of the backfield. If he can continue to add bulk without losing his speed, he will be a coveted back in the right scheme.

Additional note: Certain players will be ranked under our athlete category at the end of the series despite playing one position at an RCS. These include Elijah Hood, Montae Nicholson and Speedy Noil.



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