Two players fit into their two respective molds as they vie for the title of best running back; workhorse Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech and jitterbug Jahvid Best of California.
Jahvid Best (5’10”, 195 lbs)
Best is the definition of a burner, he runs a 10.31 in the 100 meter dash and the little man is quick to accelerate to that top end speed. He’s explosive coming through the line and if Best hits the corner he is fully capable of going the distance. With his short stature he is very well balanced and is capable of bouncing off tacklers while maintaining his equilibrium and picking up extra yardage.
The biggest question mark surrounding Best was answered in 2008:
Could a player of his slight build be an every down back in a BCS conference?
To respond to that Jahvid Best carried the football 194 times and piled up 1,580 yards in the process, a whopping 8.1 yards per carry and 15 touchdowns. Question about his durability were further answered when Best toughed out his sophomore season suffering a dislocated elbow, missing a game and then playing with a brace for the remainder of the year.
Not only is Jahvid Best proven to be exceptionally dangerous in toting the rock but he’s also shown himself to be reliable in the passing game. Even with the brace Best caught 27 balls and gained 246 and scored a touchdown. There is no doubting that Best can be a feature back whose versatility makes him a weapon anywhere on the field.
Jonathan Dwyer (6’, 228 lbs)
Although Jonathan Dwyer is not the quintessential speed burner he does possess a tremendous blend of speed and power in a compact frame. The junior is a definite first round draft pick who carried the ball 200 times a season ago on his way to racking up 1,395 yards in Paul Johnson’s flexbone option attack. As the “B-Back” Dwyer is the feature running back on the majority of the plays and his workhorse attitude was exhibited in him picking up tough yards both on the edge and up the gut.
Dwyer is tremendous running north and south, a runner who keeps his shoulders square, runs below his pads and delivers punishment instead of accepting the blows from defenders. He’s got a great sense of balance, a remarkable ability to sense impending trouble and a wrecking ball style to finishing runs in traffic, the man is tough to tackle.
In hearing about Dwyer in the option attack one instantly thinks three yards and a cloud of dust but the junior is much more than that as a back. He’s proven this in ripping off long runs against speedy defenses including North Carolina, Miami and Florida State. Couple this deceptive break away speed with his ability to crash through opponents and you’ve built the prototypical workhorse at tailback.
Both backs bring their own styles, both proven successful through their body of work. Personally I’m a fan of pro styled, between the tackles, hard nosed running backs like Dwyer and Charles Scott. However, with the climate of college football preaching versatility and the ability to break the big play Jahvid Best has to the get the nod in this battle of elite running backs.
Although the smaller back is a boom or bust player the fact that on every play he’s a difference maker both in the run and pass games helps elevate him over the more classic Dwyer. Both backs are poised to have big seasons and while Best is the nations most versatile and dangerous threat in the open field, Dwyer is a perfect fit for Johnson’s system as well.