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Top 20 running backs in the country heading into 2022 high school football season

Here are 20 running backs from 20 states who should have a 2022 season to remember
Photo by Ben Jackson

Photo by Ben Jackson

High school football is just about here again.

Several states kick off their fall season this month, so it's time to start highlighting some of the players who will attract national attention in 2022.

Over the next few weeks we'll be taking a position-by-position look at some of the best players in the country. We started with the top edge rushers in the nation, and now we shift to the other side of the ball with the running backs.

Here are 20 running backs from 20 states whom we expect to have a season worthy of national recognition.

Alabama: Jeremiah Cobb, Montgomery Catholic, sr.

Cobb rushed for 2,163 yards last season, averaging 11.1 yards per carry and scoring 30 touchdowns on the ground. He was also a threat in the air, totaling 561 yards and eight touchdowns receiving. The Auburn commit is also a two-time state champion in track and field as a sprinter.

Arkansas: Braylen Russell, Benton, jr.

Russell became the Arkansas Razorbacks' first Class of 2024 pledge in November during his sophomore year playing for Hot Springs Lakeside. He's since transferred to Benton, which won the 6A-West championship last season and should compete for the East crown this season thanks to the addition of the 6-foot-2, 230-pound bruiser.

California: Roderick Robinson II, San Diego Lincoln, sr.

Robinson rushed for 1,273 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior, and the 6-foot-1, 220-pound UCLA commit should be in line for more as a senior. "I don’t know if I have words to describe him," Lincoln coach David Dunn said of Robinson. "Intense with the workouts, incredibly football savvy and his football IQ is high. He’s made it a point to take the young guys under his wing this season.”

Colorado: Gabe Sawchuk, Valor Christian, jr.

Sawchuk is following in the footsteps of his older brother Gavin, who's now a freshman running back at Oklahoma. The younger Sawchuk had 896 all-purpose yards and scored 14 touchdowns playing in the shadow of his big brother last season, and the top-ranked junior recruit in Colorado will be ready to take center stage this year.

Florida: Richard Young, Lehigh, sr.

Young enjoyed a stellar junior season with the Lightning, rushing for 1,755 yards on 196 carries (9 yards per carry) and scoring 19 touchdowns. The Alabama commit also rushed for 982 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound speedster shifted into recruiting mode after committing to the Crimson Tide.

Georgia: Justice Haynes, Buford, sr.

Haynes will join Young at Alabama as arguably the best 1-2 freshman punch in the nation at running back in 2023. But the son of former NFL running back Verron Haynes has one more season to stamp himself as one of the best running backs in Georgia high school football history. He transferred to national power Buford for his senior season after rushing for nearly 6,000 yards and 72 touchdowns in his three years at Blessed Trinity, including 2,375 yards and 29 touchdowns last season.

Illinois: Darrion Dupree, Mt. Carmel, jr.

Dupree has had a busy summer amassing college offers (Iowa, Cincinnati and Rutgers, to name a few), and he seems poised for a junior year that will bring even more. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound back is a quick-cutting runner with a physical style that should produce some big numbers this season.

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Indiana: Jaden Hart, Michigan City, jr.

Hart scored 15 touchdowns and piled up over 1,200 all-purpose yards as a sophomore while sharing reps with older teammates. As a junior this year, more reps should mean more production for the shifty 6-foot, 200-pounder who has offers from schools such as Minnesota, Kentucky and Nebraska.

Kansas: Dylan Edwards, Derby, sr.

Edwards was the state’s leading rusher with 2,603 yards and 38 touchdowns last year after rushing for more than 1,800 yards as a sophomore. The dynamic 5-foot-9, 165-pound ball-carrier — who reportedly runs a 4.34 40-yard dash — recently decommitted from Kansas State and flipped to Notre Dame.

Louisiana: Kaleb Jackson, Liberty, sr.

Jackson piled up more than 2,000 rushing yards on 14.7 yards per carry and scored 33 total touchdowns as a junior. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound LSU commit will try to help his team improve upon its 9-2 record and second-round playoff finish last year.

Maryland: Tovani Mizell, DeMatha Catholic, jr.

Mizell was an all-purpose threat playing for Cardinal Newman in Florida last season, rushing for 616 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 34 passes for 481 yards and six more touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder nicknamed "The Boogeyman" already has offers from just about every major college program as he enters his first year playing for national power DeMatha Catholic. He committed to Georgia on Monday.

Michigan: Cole Cabana, Dexter, sr.

Cabana used his elite speed to rush for 1,688 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior. The 6-foot, 180-pound future Michigan Wolverine is one of the fastest players in the Midwest. The track star has an official time of 10.62 in the 100-meter dash and has been clocked at 4.34 in the 40-yard dash.

Mississippi: Dante Dowdell, Picayune, sr.

As a junior, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Dowdell led Picayune to a state championship while rushing for 2,555 yards and 28 touchdowns. The future Duck chose Oregon over Arkansas, Ole Miss and Tennessee. “I’m not the kind of guy who needs extra motivation,” Dowdell said after earning MVP honors in Picayune's 40-21 state championship win over West Point. “My motivation is that I want to be known as the best running back in the state, and I think I proved that I am tonight.”

Missouri: Jeremiyah Love, Christian Brothers College, sr.

Love rushed for 996 yards and 14 touchdowns on only 95 carries (10.5 yards per rush) during the Cadets’ state championship season last year. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound two-way star (he's also an outstanding DB) remains undecided for college, but Notre Dame is considered a favorite.

New Jersey: Yasin Willis, St. Joseph Regional, jr.

Willis had a 1,000-yard rushing season with nine touchdowns as a sophomore and looks poised to go much bigger as a junior. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder can run over and around defenders and has received offers from Michigan, Penn State and Kentucky, among many others.

Ohio: Jordan Marshall, Archbishop Moeller, jr.

Marshall rushed for 1,155 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 23 passes for 427 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore for the state semifinalist Crusaders. The offers are already piling up for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound speedster, including Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee.

Pennsylvania: Tre McLeod, Cheltenham, jr.

McLeod had 844 yards on just 75 carries as a sophomore, good for 11.3 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns. Expect improved speed and power from the shifty 5-foot-10, 190-pound top-ranked running back in Pennsylvania who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash in June.

Texas: Rueben Owens, El Campo, sr.

Owens has rushed for more than 5,000 yards and 75 touchdowns during his three-year career at El Campo. He reportedly plans to graduate from El Campo early and be on campus at Louisville in January as an early enrollee. He finished his junior year as one of the state’s leading rushers with 2,989 yards and 46 touchdowns, and he might hit 3,000 this year.

Washington: Jayden Limar, Lake Stevens, sr.

As a junior last season, Limar racked up more than 1,900 all-purpose yards, scoring 20 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns. The top-ranked running back in the West committed to Notre Dame over Arizona, Michigan and Oregon.

Wisconsin: Corey Smith, Catholic Memorial, jr.

Smith rushed for 1,130 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore for undefeated Catholic Memorial, averaging a whopping 11.8 yards per carry. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound speedster is a big-play machine who still has two more years of high school football to get stronger and faster as Power Five schools line up for his services.