Running Back U: All Signs Point to the SEC and Its Hierarchy

Dan Raley

In the overall NFL scheme of things, the running-back position has lost a lot of value, with pro teams more reluctant than ever to draft the college game's top rushers in the first round. These guys get beat up bad and don't last.

At the same time, Southeastern Conference teams continue to hold these particular players in high regard, as shown in Sports Illustrated's 10-year overview of each position area in the college game.

From Tuscaloosa to Athens to Baton Rouge, these SEC teams compete hard against each another to see who should be Running Back U and can pound it down someone's throat. 

See who rates No. 1 in finding, developing and sending the best tailbacks to the NFL. S-I's Reid Foster compared the number of players drafted and where, and their various accomplishments to determine this elite designation.

After a spectacular 1990s in which they sent Corey Dillon, Greg Lewis, Napoleon Kaufman and Rashaan Shehee to the NFL, the Washington Huskies in the 2010s came up with Bishop Sankey, Chris Polk, Dwayne Washington and Myles Gaskin, not a bad group.

Still, not quite decorated and utilized enough at the next level to propel Washington into Running Back U status. 

So who is No. 1 when it comes to packing the football at the college level?

Two Pac-12 teams rate consideration in this offensive category. Can you name them?

Boise State even rates outside mention at No. 12, nearly cracking the top 10 with a spate of quality runners. Can you identify one or more of the elite Bronco running backs?

While the pros won't pay for running backs like they used to, there's still nothing quite as inspiring as watching an unstoppable runner run over someone and break into the clear.