Jerrion Ealy, Snoop Conner and John Rhys Plumlee ran for a combined 2,257 yards as the three-headed monster that led Ole Miss football’s backfield in 2019. All three runners broke onto the scene as freshman a year ago and return to Oxford for 2020 under a new coaching staff led by head coach Lane Kiffin. He, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Lebby, and running backs coach Kevin Smith will implement a new points-forward offense with some serious weapons in the backfield and an offensive line poised for a big year.
We took a look at some of 2019’s fastest runs and broke them down by the numbers:
Snoop Conner — 5-foot-10, 215 pounds
Hattiesburg, Miss. native Snoop Conner burst onto the scene as the thunder back in his freshman season at Ole Miss. No. 24 carried the ball 81 times for 512 yards and five touchdowns, for an average of 6.3 yards per carry. Although he was the most compact power rusher in the 2019 backfield, Conner has some serious get-up-and-go.
His career-long run came in week six against Vanderbilt, when he took a handoff 84-yards to the house. Conner exploded through the hole at the line of scrimmage and never looked back.
Covering 84 yards in 10.48 seconds, Conner moved eight yards per second at 215 pounds, reaching an average speed of 16.4 miles per hour. That’s faster than the average steer at the running of the bulls in Spain, where the herd moves at an average speed of 15 miles per hour over the course of the event.
Four weeks later against New Mexico State, Conner showed his low center of balance, field vision and acceleration. After cutting back at the line of scrimmage and moving laterally to the sideline, he breaks a 30-yard run for six.
Once he turns up field, Conner gets to top speed around the 20-yard-line and covers the full distance of the run in 4.38 seconds. Conner’s 30-yard touchdown was 0.35 seconds faster than Feliks Zemdegs’ 2016 Rubik’s cube speed-solving world record, which took the 20-year-old Australian 4.73 seconds.
Jerrion Ealy — 5-foot-9, 180 pounds
Jerrion Ealy, the lightning back to Conner’s thunder, joined the Ole Miss roster as a five-star recruit from Flowood, Mississippi. In his freshman campaign, the shifty speedster earned second team All-SEC and Freshman All-SEC accolades after finishing second on the team with 722 rushing yards on 104 attempts. He ran for the second-most touchdowns as a freshman in school history, and added an additional touchdown both in the air and on the return.
In what was considered his breakout game, Ealy ran for 95 yards on nine carries and took a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. He went untouched through the traffic and simply out-ran the entire Lions special teams unit.
From the ball hitting his hands to the goal line, it takes Ealy 12.18 seconds to go 94 yards. At 7.7 yards per second, he moves 15.75 miles per hour, without including the added distance to change field from the 20-yard-line to the opposite 40-yard-line.
Later in the season, Ealy led the box score with six carries for 80 yards and a score. On his touchdown, No. 9 took the read option handoff to the corner and kept his legs churning.
Going 69 very nice yards in 8.6 seconds, Ealy reaches a top speed of just over 16 miles per hour— while being slowed up from full stride at the 12-yard-line. For comparison, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver and former track-and-field Olympian Marquise Godwin reached a top speed of 21.68 miles per hour completely untouched in 2017.
In a game where Ole Miss exploded for 413 rushing yards against Vanderbilt, Ealy got on his horse and scored from 78 yards out. He breaks a poor tackle on the second level and was tripped up near the goal line, but finished strong for points.
Goin 78 yards in 9.97, Ealy keeps a consistent 16.11 miles per hour. That is about seven-tenths as fast as Usain Bolt’s world-record 23.10 miles per hour. If the two take their first stride at the same time, Bolt goes 109.361 yards (100 meters) in the same amount of time it takes Ealy to go 78 yards in full pads while evading tacklers. That’s crazy fast.
John Rhys Plumlee — 6-foot-0, 192 pounds
Of course, the Ole Miss runner whose name is most recognizable on a universal scale is quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. He holds the Ole Miss freshman rushing record with 1,023 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and finished his first-year as only the sixth Rebel to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. The fellow Hattiesburg native was unstoppable on the ground and diced defenses with his quick feet and unprecedented speed for a quarterback.
One of Plumlee’s 12 touchdowns was such a no-brainer, he slowed down near the goal line and gave the opposing Vanderbilt defense a thumbs up.
Plumlee went 33 yards in 4.0 seconds flat. That’s nearly 4.8-second 40-yard-dash speed while taking the foot off of the gas inside the 7-yard-line.
If his run against Vanderbilt wasn’t enough, Plumlee showed his wheels again with a record-breaking performance against the eventual national champions. In a game where the Rebels forced the Tigers starters to play well into the fourth quarter, No. 10 scurried for 212 yards on 21 carries for four touchdowns.
His second touchdown of the night came on a read-option keeper around the edge. From the moment he got past the defensive end, he was gone.
Plumlee went 46 yards in 4.87 seconds, which translates to a 4.23-second 40-yard-dash.
Later in the evening, to wrap up his incredible night, the Oak Grove high school alumnus broke his fourth touchdown up the middle. He simply took what was given to him and ran.
On the 35-yard, 3.87-second run, he ran with 4.4 second 40-yard-dash speed. Over the course of the scoring play, he kept a consistent speed of 18.4 miles per hour, which is about one fourth as fast as a cheetah. That may seem insignificant, but cheetahs reach 68.66 miles per hour, so......
In between his 46 and 35-yard runs, Plumlee broke another for 60 yards past Dave Aranda’s defense. He cut back to the right and went untouched through the arms of diving tigers.
Vanilla Vick hit the end zone in 6.76 seconds, covering nearly nine yards per second for an average speed of 18.15 miles per hour. In the 2010 Los Alamitos 100-Yard Stakes Race, Juno Dat Royal Bug broke a track record with a winning time of 6.49 seconds. If the horses break the gates as Plumlee breaks the opposite 40-yard-line, Royal Bug hits the wire at 110 yards at nearly the same time. This math adds up, as Secretariat reached an average speed of 37.5 miles per hour in his record finish in the Belmont Stakes in 1973. Plumlee is about half as fast as a horse, which is crazy fast for a human.
This science may not be perfect, and there may be some wiggle room, but it’s a pretty good representation of the speed that Kiffin and Lebby will have at their disposal in 2020. Plumlee, Ealy and Conner are all sophomores and only trending upward.
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