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Ole Miss Preview 2022: Running Backs

Is the depth at running back the best ever?

NCAA Football: Austin Peay at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The gold standard for running backs at Ole Miss is Deuce McAllister.

McAllister had the first true Heisman campaign for an Ole Miss player in my life time (followed only by Eli Manning and maybe Matt Corral). For whatever reasons, the running back room in Oxford has never really be prolific.

The law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis was fun. Brandon Bolden and Dexter McCluster being on the same team is perhaps one of the better depth years ever. Most recently, Snoop Conner, Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish presented a nice combination of talent.

Ole Miss was once in the running for Joe McKnight if that means anything (it doesn’t).

This year though, the running backs at Ole Miss might be the featured story. It makes sense honestly. You have to be able to run the ball no matter who is under center, but when you are in the SEC and you are going to be breaking in a new QB no matter who wins the job...

You better be able to run the ball. The wide outs are an unknown. The starting QB is an unknown. You best believe Lane Kiffin isn’t all that concerned when he has a number of guys he can hand it off to in his backfield.

The Room

Kentrel Bullock - 3 star Junior from Columbia High School (MS)

Quinshon Judkins - 3 star Freshman from Pike Road High School (AL)

Zach Evans - Junior transfer from TCU

Ulysses Bentley IV- Junior transfer from SMU

Isaiah Woullard - 17th year Senior from Presbyterian Christian High School (MS)

Urriah Shephard - Senior from Northwest Community College

Reading the Room

Everyone assumed that Zach Evans was the guy who would come in and be a three down back right away. Truth is, he is talented enough for that. Quinshon Judkins has other ideas for the playing time split in Oxford.

Evans should be and probably will be the starting running back when all is said and done and here is why:

He’s got elite speed as well as the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and rack up the YAC.

Judkins is a freshman who has never seen the speed and size he will in the SEC. But at 5’11 210 pounds, he is that bowling ball back the Rebels need. Beyond the bulk, and probably added bulk from being in a college weightroom over the summer, Judkins can flat out play. He isn’t the shiftiest in the open field, but he sure knows how to make something happen.

Speaking of shifty, the SMU transfer, Ulysses Bentley IV is like trying to grab a bar of soap in a bath tub. You think you got it and then it just shoots out of your hand. He’s just tough to bring down because of how elusive he is. When he gets into the open field, hang it up, he’s gone.

Beyond these three, guys like Bullock and Woullard are mostly depth pieces that have been around and will get their time in blowouts and if an unfortunate injury situation takes place. Kiffin has assembled the most talented depth at running back, perhaps in Ole Miss history, but certainly during his tenure. It’s perfect timing and I do not believe it is by coincidence. Transitioning from a Heisman candidate QB is never easy for a program not named Alabama or Ohio State. Having a potentially elite running game helps.