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Oklahoma, Penn State Football Lead the Way With Running Back Recruiting Hauls

The future of the running back position is likely to be realized sooner than later in Norman, Happy Valley and beyond

As the 2022 college football recruiting cycle begins to wind down towards the Early Signing Period opening up in December, classes are taking full shape in the process. 

Many hit their collective stride in the summer month, thanks in large part to the return of the normal recruiting calendar as of June 1. 

Big dominoes remain over the next month or two, and there is a new No. 1 in the team recruiting rankings, but many of the top positional units have already been established. 

Sports Illustrated takes a look at some of the top positional hauls to date -- beginning with the ball carriers. 

Oklahoma: Raleek Brown, Gavin Sawchuk

The best combination of both the established and the unconventional all at the same time, the future of the Oklahoma running back room looks rock solid with Brown and Sawchuk on board. The Californian on the list is about as dynamic a player as this country offers in the 2022 cycle, regardless of where he ends up, as Brown can play traditional running back in the slot and certainly in the return game. Sawchuk has more of a classic feel for the position, able to run with balance and with comfort in between the tackles, but don't underestimate the Coloradoan in the open field either.

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Penn State: Nicholas Singleton, Kaytron Allen

The top back in the land has been Singleton from the outset of the 2022 positional watch lists on SI and he has backed it up despite all eyes on him before every touch he gets. But Allen is no typical secondary back in any class, think of this instead as a combo coming in on the same wavelength. All Allen has done over the last three years is lead IMG Academy all over America with gaudy performances, including helping the program achieve a national title in 2020. Both backs bring a load of leverage with them on contact, a stellar fit for the Big Ten, where neither figures to spend much time on the bench. 

Georgia: Branson Robinson, Jordan James*

The above asterisk is not a typo. One of the top running back talents in the country, not named above, is committed to Georgia but he is expected to play defense in Athens. Malaki Starks would make this unit the best in the country without much debate, kind of like the Bulldogs' on-field defensive product in 2021. In any event, the Robinson and James duo stands strong on their own. Robinson is one of Mississippi's top overall talents with a hulking, physical build and he plays in the same light. James has more of a conventional build with easy change of direction and great lean. 

Texas: Jaydon Blue, Jamarion Miller

While we won't see Blue in 2021 because of his decision to opt out of the season, the varsity resume is still one of the best in the class. The Houston (Texas) Cain star runs with an ease about him that may remind folks in Austin of the current starter and superstar, Bijan Robinson at times. Judging by other backs who missed a season for non-health reasons ahead of their freshman campaign (looking at you, TreVeyon Henderson), don't expect much rust when it counts. Miller is also an in-stater who is known for quickness in the hole, footwork and speed in the open field. It doesn't take much imagination to see this duo flanking one another on the field one day. 

North Carolina: Omarion Hampton, George Pettway

The newest pair on the scene relative to the rest of the list is the duo headed to Chapel Hill. On the heels of what Javonte Williams and Michael Carter did for Mack Brown in 2020, there will be inevitable comparisons between the Hampton and Pettway duo of 2022. Out of Virginia, Pettway joined the fold in September as a stop-start weapon and a change of pace to Hampton, the in-state pledge. He is more of a downhill bruiser in the wash with surprising top-end torque in the open field.  

Next in the 'Best of' series is wide receiver on Wednesday, November 3