As Nebraska moves into the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today we look at the running back position in the Big Ten heading into 2011.
Note: Ohio State running back Dan Herron was left off of this list because of his uncertainty for the 2011 season.
1. Edwin Baker, Michigan State, 5-9, 208, Jr.
As a true sophomore last season, Michigan State's Edwin Baker established himself as one of the best young backs in the country. With 1,201 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns and an average of 92.4 yards per game, Baker gives the Spartans a proven workhorse in the backfield as they prepare to make a run at a Big Ten Conference title this season.
2. Montee Ball, Wisconsin, 5-11, 214, Jr.
As one head of Wisconsin's three-headed monster at running back last season, Montee Ball broke out with 996 yards on 163 carries and led the Badgers with 18 rushing touchdowns. While John Clay moved on to the NFL, Ball's value still gets a big boost from having 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year James White helping carry the load in the backfield.
3. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska, 5-11, 210, Jr.
There might not be a running back in the Big Ten who means more to his offense than junior Rex Burkhead means to Nebraska. With essentially no experience coming back along side him at the position, the Huskers will have to rely heavily on Burkhead, especially in the early goings of the season. The good news is he's no stranger to shouldering a big workload, as he touched the ball 196 times last year between rushes, catches, passes and punt returns.
4. Marcus Coker, Iowa, 6-1, 230, So.
It's hard to imagine that after Iowa lost it's top three running backs from this point last year, the Hawkeyes could manage to come into this season with one of the best backs in the conference. That's exactly what they have in sophomore Marcus Coker, who has already drawn comparisons to Shonn Greene after rushing for 622 yards as a true freshman and winning the Insight Bowl MVP.
5. Silas Redd, Penn State, 5-10, 201, So.
After coming to Penn State as the nation's No. 4 ranked running back out of high school by Rivals.com, Silas Redd gave a glimpse of what the hype was all about last season when he ranked second on the team with 437 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry. With Evan Royster graduated, Redd will be the feature back for the Nittany Lions, who will need all they can get from him considering their quarterback issues.