The best Big XII running backs returning for the 2022 college football season are also, some of the best players in all of college football. The back who takes the top spot could very well break out to be an All-American and Heisman contender. Oh, there are two viable candidates to fill that spot. The best Big XII running backs are head and shoulders above the returning Big XII starters at the quarterback position. Which program should feel the best about their bell-cow running back?
Best Big XII Running Backs Returning for 2022
Third Best Big XII Running Back: Kendre Miller
Running backs entering their third season is going to be a trend for the top three running backs in the Big XII. Kendre Miller spent his first two seasons having to share touches with former five-star recruit Zach Evans. But with Evans transferring to Ole Miss, Miller is in line to be the bell cow for Sonny Dykes first season as Horned Frog’s head coach. Even with having to share the workload, Evans averaged 7.5 yards per carry on 83 rush attempts and seven touchdowns. Evans hasn’t displayed much in the way of pass-catching abilities. He only had 12 receptions last season. However, his game-breaking speed is unquestioned. Evans had rushing touchdowns of 33, 45, 56, and 75 yards in 2021. Miller is primed to be a breakout candidate this season.
Second Best Big XII Running Back: Deuce Vaughn
Plenty of worthy candidates could have been considered for the third-best Big 12 running back. But there is a major jump in talent when discussing the two best. The “Deuce” has been getting loose in the Big XII for two seasons now. The Deuce Vaughn broadcast Bingo card is littered with “HE IS ONLY 5’6”, but aside from talking about his height all throughout a game, Vaughn can ball with the best of them. According to PFF, Vaughn “was responsible for 59 total plays that resulted in a gain of 10 or more yards — the most among Power Five running backs” He totaled 1872 yards on 284 combined touches (6.59 yards per touch) and 22 total touchdowns. Vaughn’s 2021 accolades include:
- Consensus All-American
- First-team All-American (PFF, AP, Sporting News),
- Second-team All-American (CBS Spots, AFCA, USA Today)
- Big XII offensive player of the year
- Doak Walker Award Semifinalist
According to his Kansas State Bio, entering the 2022 season, he “ranks first among all active non-kickers in career points per game (8.1), second among active players in career all-purpose yards per game (134.48).” Assuming the all-purpose Wildcat stays healthy, he will leave Manhattan with just about every offensive record in school history. As impressive as Vaughn has been, he came *this close* to claiming the top spot of the best Big XII running backs.
The Best Big XII Running Back: Bijan Robinson
The differences between Bijan Robinson and Vaughn are paper-thin. Vaughn’s career numbers certainly are more robust. This is due predominately on account former Texas head coach Tom Herman forgetting to give his best offensive player the ball more in Robinson’s freshman year. Robinson is listed at 6’0” 221 lbs, while Vaughn is listed at 5’6” 176 lbs. Two running backs are roughly the same speed, but one is larger than the other. So give me the one that is harder to bring to the ground.
PFF states Robinson’s “0.40 missed tackles forced per attempt figure led all FBS running backs. Robinson’s elusiveness showed up in the passing game, too, as he broke eight tackles on 26 receptions while averaging 10.7 yards after the catch per reception.” Robinson’s numbers last year were nothing to sneeze at either. He had a combined 1422 yards of offense on 221 touches (6.43 yards per touch) and 15 touchdowns. Robinson is poised for truly a breakout season for the Longhorns. If Steve Sarkisian ensures his star running back touches the ball at least 25 times again, Robinson will find himself among a very distinguished list of Longhorn running backs.