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Best high school running backs in Houston area, Southeast Texas in 2023

Who are the top returning tailbacks in Houston and the surrounding region?
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As the 2023 Texas high school football season quickly approaches, SBLive is taking a look at the top players in the Lone Star State by position and region.

With preseason practice under way, SBLive Texas is taking a look at the top returning teams and players around the state by region, starting with the toughest position in sports.

We started with quarterbacks, identifying the top 20 in each regions — North Texas, Central Texas, South Texas, East Texas, Southeast Texas and West Texas — and moved to running backs. 

>> 20 best quarterbacks in Houston area, Southeast Texas entering 2023

We took a look at the best running backs in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and the rest of North Texas, then the top 20 in Central TexasSouth Texas and East Texas.

Before moving to wide receivers, we look at the top running backs in the greater Houston area and Southeast Texas.

Stay with SBLive Texas (@SBLiveTX) for a position-by-position look at the top high school football players across each of the Lone Star State's six regions entering the 2023 season, along with reader polls asking fans to choose the best on each watch list. Players are listed in alphabetical order.


Humble Atascocita running back Tory Blaylock takes 

Humble Atascocita running back Tory Blaylock takes 

Hunter Andrews. 6-2, 215, sr., Magnolia

The three-star recruit ran for 921 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for the Bulldogs. A sprinter and long jumper for the track and field, he possessed plenty of opportunity to play football at the next level with offers from Stanford, Northwestern, Houston and Nebraska but he ultimately committed to Utah.

Frankie Arthur, 5-10, 190, sr., Conroe Oak Ridge

A football and track star, Arthur ran for 1,445 yards and 18 touchdowns for the War Eagles. He currently has 19 offers going into August and some of those include SMU, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulane and Baylor to name a few. The three-star recruit is the little brother of former NFL standout Adrian Peterson.

Taji Atkins, 5-7, 1750, sr., Houston Westfield

In his first year starting, he racked up 1,292 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, while crossing the end zone 9 times on 27 catches. Atkins had an 11.3-yard per-carry average last fall. He committed to Rice on June 18.

Lloyd Avant, 5-10, 190, sr., Houston Summer Creek

The Tulsa pledge was the District 21-6A offensive MVP last year after running for 1,710 yards and 32 touchdowns. He averaged more than 9 yards per carry for the Bulldogs. He was an honorable mention all-state honors last fall.

Kiandrea Barker, 5-11, 185, jr., The Woodlands

Transferred from Bebee, Arkansas, this past spring. At the time, he was lauded as the No. 1 recruit in the Natural State. He accounted for 1,225 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns last year. The four-star recruit committed to Penn State in April. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Miami and Florida State were among his top five.

Tory Blaylock, 5-10, 175, jr., Humble Atascocita

He’s going to be the latest in his family to play college football and will have plenty of options in two years. The District 21-6A newcomer of the year last year holds 30-plus offers from programs like Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, TCU, Texas and Stephen F. Austin — where his dad Derrick played before going on to a seven-year NFL career. His older brothers, Travian (Wisconsin) and Taylen (Lindenwood) are both currently playing Division I college football.

Bryce Burgess, 5-8, 170, sr., Pearland Dawson

The District 23-6A offensive newcomer of the year in 2021 followed that up by running for 1,023 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Eagles. The 2022 District 26-6A offensive MVP had seven 100-plus yard games. He has offers from Incarnate Word and Texas Southern.

Tylik Burton, 5-7, 165, sr., Pearland Shadow Creek

He landed first-team All-District 23-6A honors last season for the Sharks. He had more than 1,000 yards of all-purpose yards and has run for more than 700 yards each of the past two seasons on varsity. Holds an offer from Texas State.

Tyvonn Byars, 5-10, 205, jr., Montgomery Lake Creek

He shared the Class 5A offensive player of the year honors last year and was the District 10-5A MVP. Picked up his first Division I offer in May from SMU. Byars ran for 2,346 yards and 37 scores while adding three more on touchdown catches.

Johann Cardenas, 6-0, 215, sr., Houston St. Thomas

He’s been a standout for the Eagles the past two years with more than 2,000 yards on the ground and nearly 1,000 receiving. The first-team TAPPS Division I all-stater, he ran for 1,041 yards with 13 scores and had five more touchdowns catching the ball. He committed to Vanderbilt on July 7.

Joseph Dodds, 5-11, 205, sr., El Maton Tidehaven

He’s been a fixture on the past three District 14-3A Division II postseason squad, first as a newcomer of the year in 2020 and first-team picks the past two years. Last season, the Baylor pledge ran for 1,633 yards with 12 touchdowns. Ranked as a three-star recruit.

Xai’Shaun Edwards, 5-9, 175, sr., League City Clear Springs

He’s a three-star recruit that is about to begin his third year starting for the Chargers. Edwards has been a District 24-6A pick for the past two years. He enters his final year with 3,047 career yards and 35 touchdowns. Oregon, Texas Tech, Houston and Missouri are among his nine offers heading into August.

Davion Godley, 5-8, 180, sr., Fulshear

Earned third-team Class 5A all-state honors last year after rushing for 2,147 yards and 24 touchdowns. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry and ran for at least 100 yards in all 13 games for the Wildcats. Picked up his first Division I offer in May from Stetson.

DeAndre Hardeman Jr., 5-8, 180, jr.,Galena Park North Shore

He’s a bruising-type running back that is hard to bring down — in the mold of his father DeAndre ‘Tiki’ Hardeman, who played at Texas A&M from 1995-1999. The younger Hardeman ran for 1,021 yards and 15 touchdowns last year for the Class 6A runners-up. UTSA and Incarnate Word are among his offers.

Elijah Harris, 5-9, 160, sr., Houston Clear Lake

On Aug. 1, Harris tweeted his commitment to stay in town and play for Houston Christian. He eclipsed 100 yards or more in 5 of the team’s 10 games last season. Harris ran for 1,012 yards and 10 touchdowns. Held offers from Colorado State, Incarnate Word, Marshall, Memphis and Louisiana Tech among others.

Cameron Mathews, 5-7, 165, jr., Pasadena J. Frank Dobie

He’s a featured back in a Wing-T offense for the Longhorns. He accounted for 17 touchdowns last year, 14 on the ground with 1,037 yards rushing. Earned District 22-6A first-team honors at running back last season. Picked up offers from UTSA, Utah, Grambling State and Houston Christian.

Trey Morris, 5-10, 190, sr., Houston Cypress Falls

Had more than 20 offers heading into his final season but pledged to play for the Army Black Knights on July 15. He ran for 1,632 yards and 20 touchdowns in 10 games last year for the Eagles. He was the District 16-6A offensive MVP last year — following up winning the district newcomer of the year award in 2021.

Jeremy Payne, 5-10, 170, sr., Fort Bend Hightower

Ranked in the top 20 in the country among running backs and was a second-team Class 6A all-state pick last fall. Payne averaged 10 yards per carry, finishing with 1,002 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in eight games. Possessed in-state offers from UTSA, Texas A&M, SMU, Houston and Baylor to commit to TCU in June.

Daylion Robinson, 5-11, 185, jr., Willis

He plays in the backfield with D.J. Lagway, one of the top quarterbacks in the state. Robinson had more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns last year, on his way to earning District 13-6A offensive newcomer of the year. Tulsa, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech have all offered him a scholarship.

Jamaal Wiley, 6-0, 200, sr., Strafford

Though he didn’t put up eye-popping numbers last year, Wiley caught the eye of many Power 5 programs with offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma State and TCU. However, he committed to California on June 23. He ran for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games last year.

Kedren Young, 5-11, 210, sr., Lufkin

He was an honorable all-state pick last fall in Class 5A for the Panthers. He racked up 7.3 yards per carry with 1,751 yards on the ground with 19 touchdowns. He committed to Notre Dame on June 5 but has since taken visits to TCU and Texas A&M.